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The Sustainable Sector Transformation Model | Transforming smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors towards sustainability
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Transforming smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors towards sustainability

Agriculture has performed well over the last 50 years, not only keeping pace with rapid population growth, but also delivering food at progressively lower prices. Unfortunately this growth has led to overuse of natural resources and the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In social terms, moreover, many agricultural producers continue to live at or below the poverty line, and agricultural workers may be subject to unacceptable working conditions. Achieving sustainability in the production of agricultural commodities is necessary to ensure food security, a healthy natural resource base and human wellbeing.

Addressing sustainability issues in agro commodity sectors is challenging, especially in those sectors that are dominated by smallholders. In these sectors systemic change has proven to be elusive and current transformation models, whether public or market driven, have only realized it to a limited extent.

Therefore Aidenvironment ,NewForesight and IIED have developed a groundbreaking new holistic Sustainable Sector Transformation Model commissioned by the IFC, the Dutch Ministry of Affairs, SECO and IDH the sustainable trade initiative.



The Sustainable Sector Transformation Model

The model for sustainable sector transformation for smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors consists of five building blocks: Sector alignment & accountability, strengthening of market demand, public sector governance, organization of the production base and organization of the service sector. Each of these building blocks are a condition for realizing farm and sector quality. For an extensive report on the model and its building block see link to whitepaper

Sustainable transformation model

The Sustainable Sector Transformation Model


The model for sustainable sector transformation for smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors consists of five building blocks: Sector alignment & accountability, strengthening of market demand, public sector governance, organization of the production base and organization of the service sector. Each of these building blocks are a condition for realizing farm and sector quality. For an extensive report on the model and its building block see link to whitepaper
organization_service sector

Sector alignment & accountability


Crucial in this building block is the development of a vision on farm quality and sector quality, including the definition of a step-wise improvement path. This vision should be shared by all relevant stakeholders and translated into a strategy that clearly defines roles and responsibilities between stakeholders. Each stakeholder should be held accountable for key performance indicators (KPIs). Progress on the KPIs should be monitored and the monitoring data should be used to adopt the strategy and stimulate sector-wide learning
supply chain

Strengthening market demand


The market should align behind the vision and organize their procurement practices in such way that it rewards improvement and excludes worst practices. This requires buyers to position themselves as preferred buyers to producers and possibly provide
additional services such as capacity building or inputs.

Public sector governance


The public sector has an important role to regulate and support sector transformation where the market fails or is incapable to act. This includes enforcing social and environmental regulation (e.g. land tenure, labor, and conservation) providing investments (e.g. infrastructure, research, input subsidies) and governing the market to ensure effective quality differentiation and price transmissions, reduce price volatility and improve sector organization (e.g. minimum prices, quality regulation,marketing boards).
organization_production base

Organization of the production base


Key for wide-scale promotion of sector quality is to organize producers around service delivery. Organization could be obtained in different ways, including through service provider networks, outgrower schemes, supply chain networks, cooperatives or sector-wide organization. The organization of the production base can enable the market to reward good performance and exclude worst practices.
organization_service sector

Organization of the service sector


Services such as extension, inputs and finance need to be accessible, demand driven, bundled where possible and of high quality. In the ideal situation, services are provided by a competitive market of service providers that treat farmers as clients and in which services are increasingly paid by farmers themselves. Service delivery should also reward good performance and exclude worst practices. In absence, of a professional service sector, buyers or the public sector could organize this alongside the complementary – possibly non-competitive – investments to build a professional service sector. Small sector levies and taxes may offer potential for longer-term sector-wide financing of services.



Jan Willem Molenaar - Aidenvironment


Jan Willem Molenaar is senior consultant at Aidenvironment. He has expertise on sustainable market transformation, responsible sourcing and finance, voluntary sustainability standards and smallholder development. He joined Aidenvironment in 2007. Previously he worked for three years for SNV Netherlands Development Organization in Cameroon as advisor in organizational strengthening and market chain development. Jan Willem has a MA in both Business Economics and Cultural Anthropology.

Laure Heilbron – NewForesight


Laure Heilbron is an expert in agricultural value chains and sustainable market transformation. He is a member of the thinkthank Worldconnectors. Previously Laure worked as a strategy consultant for A.T. Kearney and was the director of Behold International. He is one of the initiators of The Partnership Election and the DEAL foundation. Laure obtained an MSc in Management and Strategy from the London School of Economics. He also has an MSc in International Development Studies from Utrecht University. While studying in London,Laure co-developed the course Business Model Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid.

Emma Blackmore – IIED


Emma Blackmore is a consultant Researcher for the Sustainable Markets Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development. Her research has focused on the use and impacts of standards and certification, in agriculture and fisheries. She is particularly interested in the development and impact of sustainability standards in South-South trade and investment – both formal and informal and the role of China therein. Emma leads of IIED’s flagship research initiative, Shaping Sustainable Markets, which looks at the use and impact of market governance mechanisms. She has an MSc from the School of Oriental and African Studies and a BSc from the University of Bristol.

Joost Gorter - NewForesight


Joost Gorter has extensive experience as a strategy consultant. He worked on assignments for the World Bank, the United Nations and GIZ in the United States of America, China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and North Africa. Joost has an MA in History from the University of Amsterdam, studied Business Economics at the University of Hong Kong, American Studies at Smith College, and obtained an MA in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Lucas Simons – NewForesight


Lucas Simons is founder and CEO of two companies: NewForesight, a strategic consultancy company working on sustainable market transformation, and SCOPEinsight, a farmer organization assessment company that bridges the gap between professional farmer organizations, markets and sources of finance. Previously Simons was director of UTZ CERTIFIED, a leading global certification and sustainability standard organization for sustainable coffee, cocoa
and tea. In 2011 Simons was honored as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for his commitment and accomplishments in the field of sustainable trade, agriculture and rural development. In 2013 he became Ashoka Fellow for his pioneering role as a social entrepreneur and systemic change maker.

Bill Vorley– IIED


Bill Vorley is Principal researcher in the Sustainable markets Group of IIED. He joined IIED in 1999, after working in research and advocacy in SE Asia, Europe and the US of on agriculture and the environment, small-scale farming, and agribusiness. His primary interests centre on the position of small-scale farming in the face of big shifts in food systems worldwide, the role of the private sector and standards in shaping market access for farmers, and the resilience of informal markets. Bill has a PhD in applied ecology from the University of Southampton. He divides his time between working with IIED, and consultancy in the Wealden landscape of SE England.

Jonas Dallinger – AidEnvironment


For more than five years, Jonas Dallinger has been working on private sector approaches for sustainable development, focusing on agricultural supply chains. His main expertise includes sustainability certification, value chain development, climate change, livelihoods analysis and Corporate
Sustainability. His degrees in geography and international business qualify him
to understand the interdisciplinary sustainability challenges of today and to develop concepts and strategies to effectively address them. Before joining Aidenvironment in 2012, Jonas worked for the German Development Cooperation in Thailand, focusing on sustainable bioenergy, smallholder development and certification.

Jan Joost Kessler-Aidenvironment


Jan Joost Kessler acquired his Doctorate Degree on the subject of integrating sustainability into planning processes. Jan Joost has practical experiences mainly in the fields of environmental assessment, sustainable development strategies, facilitation of participatory processes. Most of his work entails helping organizations take account of sustainability issues in their policy cycle, with programs on mainstreaming environment and organizational frameworks. More recently he has been involved in the design of certification standards and development of implementation tools.

The Consultants

Aidenvironment is an independent value-driven consultancy. We advise our clients in realizing their ambitions in sustainable market transformation in the most prominent commodity sectors. Known for our in-depth knowledge, reliable quality and good advisory skills, we are continuously asked to work for frontrunners in the private, public and non-profit sector.

Website : www.aidenvironment.org

NewForesight facilitates sustainable market transformations. As a strategic consultancy we address the global challenges of our time. We develop innovative strategies, unite stakeholders around a transformative vision for their sector and drive implementation.

Website : www.newforesight.com

IIED is one of the world’s most influential international development and environment policy research organisations. We build bridges between policy and practice, rich and poor communities, the government and private sector, and across diverse interest groups.

Website : www.iied.org

The Sponsors

IFC – the International Finance Corporation

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.

Website : www.ifc.org

Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Netherlands

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the channel through which the Dutch Government communicates with foreign governments and international organisations. It coordinates and carries out Dutch foreign policy.The principles behind its integrated policy are based on three pillars: security, prosperity and freedom.

Website : www.government.nl/ministries/bz

State Secretariat for
Economic Affairs SECO

SECO is the Swiss federal government’s centre of expertise for all core issues relating to economic
policy. Its aim is to ensure sustainable economic growth by putting in place
the necessary regulatory and economic policy conditions.

Website : www.seco.admin.ch

IDH – the sustainable
trade initiative

IDH accelerates and up-scales sustainable trade by building impact oriented coalitions of front running multinationals, civil society organizations, governments and other stakeholders. Through convening public and private interests, strengths and knowledge, IDH programs help create shared value for all partners.

Website : www.idhsustainabletrade.org


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