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?

Research team

Saweda Liverpool-Tasie

Saweda Liverpool-Tasie

Lead author, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

Livia Bizikova

Livia Bizikova

Director, SDG Knowledge, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Ashley Celestin

Ashley Celestin

MPS candidate in International Agriculture and Rural Development, Cornell University

Alessandra Galie

Alessandra Galie

Senior Social Scientist, International Livestock Research Institute

Nasra Gathoni

Nasra Gathoni

Librarian, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aga Khan University

Guigonan Serge Adjognon

Guigonan Serge Adjognon

Agricultural Economist, The World Bank

Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon

Professor of Development Economics, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University.

Justice Tambo

Justice Tambo

Agricultural economist, Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International

Carolina Vargas Espinosa

Carolina Vargas Espinosa

Ph.D. student, Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics Department, Michigan State University

Ayala Wineman

Ayala Wineman

post-doctoral Research Associate, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington

Sarah Young

Sarah Young

Librarian, Carnegie Mellon University

Research protocol

 

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.

 

This is one of eight evidence syntheses selected by Ceres2030 to help decision-makers choose the best interventions to achieve the UN's Sustainability Development Goal of "Zero Hunger" by 2030 (SDG 2).