The challenge is twofold: helping smallholders receive fair remuneration and building an agricultural system that not only respects the environment as well as human and animal health, but also creates jobs.
The current economic context is playing to the detriment of smallholder communities: they face competition from subsidized agriculture in the North and have little control over local and international markets, which are in the hands of dominant players and agribusiness. To overcome those imbalances, which are pushing smallholders into poverty and food insecurity, AVSF supports the development of fair and sustainable agricultural supply chains through four types of projects.
4 lines of action
AVSF helps smallholder communities transition to agroecology, which offers an important competitive advantage: moving upmarket by positioning production on high-quality markets. Plus, crop diversification (which is an inherent part of agroecology) reduces dependence on the fluctuations of a single market and losses owing to climate shocks. It combines export crops and subsistence crops, which are destined for self-consumption and local markets, and diversifies sources of income.
When it comes to export and local supply chains, AVSF encourages promoting the quality of products through certifications. Those certifications tell consumers that products comply with rigorous specifications, justify higher prices so that producers can receive better remuneration and therefore are helping transform the agrifood sector. The transition to agroecology also requires transforming food systems in their entirety and relocating trade by favoring short supply chains. AVSF encourages and assists in the creation of smallholder markets for agroecological and organic goods, boutiques and kiosks for smallholder products, etc.
Producer organizations are key players within fair and sustainable supply chains. AVSF improves their organization and how they manage production, processing and sales. The smallholders pool certain services (credit, equipment, inputs, collection, etc.), reduce costs and improve the quality of production and processing. On local and export markets, producer organizations gain the ability to free themselves from intermediaries, negotiate directly with buyers, enter transparent high-quality supply chains and promote the uniqueness of their production. On the political front, producer organizations defend the interests of smallholders vis-à-vis communities, governments and private players.
AVSF helps those producer organizations establish long-term partnerships as well as fair and transparent contracts with processors and distributors. Those efforts can be part of sustainable sourcing policies, responsible purchasing policies or simply the corporate-social-responsibility policy of the companies in question. In any case, AVSF experiments with agricultural relationships under contract systematically established not with individual producers but with producer organizations. AVSF works with producer organizations to maintain fair commercial relations by getting public authorities involved to defend their rights. Fair trade is the most successful form of contractualization and guarantees long-term commercial engagements and minimum prices that largely cover production costs for producers.
Because it also responds to issues relating to the transition to agroecology and the strengthening of strong producer organizations in supply chains and regions, fair trade remains a major part of AVSF’s work.
Helping more than 100 indigenous smallholder families in high-altitude areas of Huancavelica recover, produce and sell native varieties of potato in Peru and internationally
Strengthening a network of six small-planter cooperatives (2,000 families) in the production and sale of high-quality fermented cocoa (Nord department, Haiti) on fair-trade markets.
Helping eight Malagasy producer organizations (500 families) to market their vanilla, litchi, and spice production in fair-trade markets.