Vibrant food systems
How can the various elements of a modern food economy improve conditions for small-scale food producers?
Photo: Fintrac Inc via USAID.
When we talk about specific foods in a food system, we are often talking about “value chains.” A value chain describes the process that takes a crop from the field to the supermarket shelf. It begins with the inputs that lie behind a farmer planting their crops and then extends through warehouses, transportation, processors, food manufacturers, wholesalers, exporters, supermarkets, street food vendors, and fast food restaurants. They all influence the way small-scale producers farm and market their produce.
And all these elements of the value chain have, in turn, been influenced by urbanization, population growth, and rising incomes in developing countries, which have transformed what people eat over the past twenty years. Diets are now more diverse with people eating more meat and processed food. These trends both drive and reflect changes in the way food is created, stored, shipped, processed, and sold, and change the risks borne by small scale producers and farmers.
This evidence synthesis looks at how small-scale producers engage with various elements of complex food systems. Does this engagement improve the welfare of farmers? Does it raise productivity? Does it improve the use of technology? What are the conditions under which small-scale food producers successfully achieve these goals?
Director, SDG Knowledge, International Institute for Sustainable Development
MPS candidate in International Agriculture and Rural Development, Cornell University
Professor of Development Economics, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University.
Carolina Vargas Espinosa
Ph.D. student, Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics Department, Michigan State University
post-doctoral Research Associate, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington
The full details of the the protocol for this evidence synthesis are available on the OSF open platform run by the Center for Open Science.