How can business make smallholder supply chains resilient? How can private companies connect the SDGs with their smallholder supply chains – and what is the business case for doing so? These were the central questions of the Innovation Forum in London three weeks ago. Liesbeth Van Meulder attended the conference and shares her insights.
Talking about farming businesses, resilience is a hot topic these days. “To me, it’s simple,” says Liesbeth. “Resilience is about control, about having the necessary flexibility in a farmer’s business and livelihood, so that he or she can overcome setbacks. When I was working in Benin with rice farmers, the simple fact that there was no safe storage facility for their rice and no warehouse receipt systems meant that the farmers had to sell immediately after harvest, at very low prices. They had no margins to wait for better prices. In those circumstances, a poor harvest due to lower soil fertility, for example, has devastating consequences. So I was curious to know how the private sector addressed the subject of resilience in its business practices.”