Small producers in the global market

Small producer agency in the globalised market: second global learning network meeting

28 March 2010

Globalisation, and particularly the food crises of 2007-2008 and 2010-11, have renewed interest in agriculture and small-scale producers. Much of this interest has focused on connecting producers to markets. Governments, donors and the development community at large, as well as many in the private sector, have embraced the “pro-poor market” concept with the expectation that, through market inclusion, small-scale producers can survive and even prosper in the face of the major changes in agriculture and food markets brought about by globalisation.

A Global Learning Network was established in 2010 to critically reflect on this agenda. The network provides a space that combines action research and learning on some of the critical challenges that small-scale producers are facing in globalised markets. How do small-scale producers make good choices in the face of the new opportunities and risks associated with these powerful external agendas? How can they build the capacities to act on those choices – in other words, their agency? Has producer agency been overlooked in the push to ‘link them to markets’? How are producers engaging with pro-poor market interventions and how are they trying to get better deals? The network is a central pillar of the Knowledge Programme ‘Small producer agency in the globalised market’

The second Global Learning Network meeting will take place from 4th to 8th April in Fort Portal, hosted by the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Uganda.

Much has happened since the Learning Network last met in Geneva in April 2010 . The turbulence in the food and agriculture sector has gained particular attention from global leaders and dominates international agendas.

This has generated new momentum and opportunities for fresh insights to reshape the debate around small-scale producers, agriculture and food. The Global Learning Network has endeavoured to produce, integrate and disseminate knowledge using the lens of small-scale producers’ agency — the capacity of small-scale producers to take informed decisions and to act on them. This requires challenging our own ideas, conventional wisdom, assumptions and actions from both theoretical and practical perspectives. The enquiry has taken the shape of a collaborative research programme and dialogue with a multitude of actors ranging from, producer organisations, businesses, civil society organisations, public institutions and local networks, across several countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The Global Learning Network has developed a common framework along three themes which were identified in 2010. The preliminary findings and perspectives will be discussed in this second meeting. A public debate is also being organised with academics, Ugandan farmers’ organisations, government representatives, agribusiness entrepreneurs and civil society organisations on how small-scale producers are facing the new challenges. Reports on this debate and the proceedings of the Learning Network meeting will be available in April. We welcome your valuable comments!