Power, Rights, and Inclusive Markets: Public policies that support small-scale agriculture | Food Security

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By supporting small-scale agricultural producers, policy makers in governments and donor agencies can help some of the poorest people in the world to improve their livelihoods. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that most donor and government policies are currently biased towards large-scale agriculture at the expense of small-scale producers, women, and rural communities. This briefing note draws on recent Oxfam research to describe specific examples of how policy makers can govern markets and incentivise commercial investment in agriculture that includes small-scale producers. Policy recommendations focus on three key principles: giving small-scale producers, particularly women, power in markets and in politics
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  OXFAM BRIEFING NOTE 5 JUNE 2013 www.oxfam.org Bvumbwe market, Malawi, 2009; improved irrigation makes tomatoes a successful crop for a farmers‟ cooperative. Photo: Abi Tra yler-Smith POWER, RIGHTS, AND INCLUSIVE MARKETS Public policies that support small-scale agriculture By supporting small-scale agricultural producers, policy makers in governments and donor agencies can help some of the poorest people in the world to improve their livelihoods. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that most donor and government policies are currently biased towards large-scale agriculture at the expense of small-scale producers, women, and rural communities. This briefing note draws on recent Oxfam research to describe specific examples of how policy makers can govern markets and incentivise commercial investment in agriculture that includes small-scale producers. Policy recommendations focus on three key principles: giving small-scale producers, particularly women, power in markets and in politics; protecting basic rights; and supporting inclusive markets.  2 1. INTRODUCTION  Agriculture is back on the agenda for both governments and donors. A new era of high and volatile food prices (associated with the period since the 2008 food price crisis), a growing and more affluent global population, and climate change have refocused minds on the need to invest in agriculture. Small-scale production is a critical part of the solution, providing food and employment for the poorest people on the planet. However, policy makers have fallen short in devising and implementing policies that: (i) give small-scale producers  –  particularly women  –  power, in markets and in politics; (ii) protect basic rights; and (iii) support inclusive markets. In response, this briefing note makes key policy recommendations for governments and donors to regulate and influence private investment in agriculture and the working of markets (summarised in Table 1 below). Table 1: Key principles for policies that support small-scale agriculture Explanation Checklist for policy makers Power Strengthening the voice and participation of those in poverty to increase their ability to influence decisions both in markets and in politics, as well as addressing abuses of market power ã  Support for producer organisations ã  Involving marginalised communities in decision making ã  Competition policy to create fairer market conditions for small-scale producers ã  Fair dealings between agribusiness and small-scale producers Basic rights Respecting, upholding, and promoting basic human rights and the rights of communities, including land and water rights, labour rights, and freedom from discrimination ã  Land rights and land reform ã  Restricted land access for investors ã  Free, prior, and informed consent, and transparent contracts in land deals ã  Labour rights ã  Family law and inheritance law ã  Gender equality policies Multiple inclusive markets Support for diverse markets through infrastructure and services; helping traditional markets to evolve and compete; helping small-scale producers benefit from formal markets and gain a fair share of value ã  Overall vision and priority of agriculture, including role of women ã  Physical and policy infrastructure ã  Supporting traditional markets ã  Managing FDI or taxing imports ã  Tax incentives for investors to source from small-scale producers ã  Proper pricing of land and water for larger investors ã  Preferential access to formal markets ã  Market coordination This briefing note is directed at public sector policy makers (national governments and donors) focused on agriculture in the developing world. In doing so, it draws heavily on recent Oxfam research 1  to outline key principles and examples of policies that support small-scale agriculture.   3 Why support small-scale producers?  With vulnerability, poverty, and hunger concentrated in the countryside, small farms are critical for poverty reduction  –  absorbing labour, allowing communities to build assets, and helping local markets to flourish. Almost two billion people worldwide depend on 500 million small farms for their livelihoods and food security, and growth in this sector has twice the effect on the poorest people as other sectors. 2  At the same time, small farms can be commercially viable, with small-scale producers being the main investors in agriculture in many countries. This does not suggest that policies should lock people into small-scale production  –  individuals may exit agriculture as the economy develops. Nor does it suggest that large-scale agriculture should be eliminated. The food security challenge requires a mixed model of agriculture, both large and small, which can also support more inclusive development. Policies should acknowledge and address the diverse range of „rural worlds‟ within the small -scale sector (see Figure 1). Figure 1: ‘Rural worlds’ in small -scale agriculture   Rural World 3Rural World 2Rural World 1 POLICY PRIORITIESEXAMPLES ã Formal market ã Vertical / value chain market governance ã Fair trading legislation ã Contract oversight ã Institutions to support voluntary standards ã Support for producer organizations ã Informal market ã Unorganised producers ã Horizontal market governance ã Labour market ã Soft infrastructure ã Social protection ã Secure rights to land and natural resources ã Labour legislation and implementation, especially as relates to women ã Land reform ã Public investment in extension and training ã Trade policy measures ã Upgrading informal sector, inclusive formalisation ã Sector support ã Quotas for small/family farms ã Competition policy (cartels, state monopolies) ã Investment in wholesale markets ã Public investment in extension and training 2  – 10% of organized small-scale producers, with access to capital, information, and infrastructureThe majority of small-scale producers, not organized, trade largely with the informal sector  Approaching landlessness, depend on wage labour for livelihoods. Women are disproportionately represented   A lack of both appropriate policy and physical infrastructure means that investment is often biased in favour of large-scale models and formal or export markets, over small farms and diverse local markets. However, good policy, when well implemented, can drive more and better investment to small-scale producers, particularly to women and other marginalised producers.  4 Unlocking the potential of women producers  Rural women play a critical role in producing food for home consumption and for sale on domestic and international markets, and their incomes play a disproportionate role in family welfare and education. Yet women are often „hidden‟ in the food system or face a myriad of structural barriers. They lack access to basic services, are overburdened with care responsibilities, have weak land rights, and are under-represented in formal market structures and policy decision making. However, with access to the same resources as men, women could increase farm yields by 20  – 30 per cent and could reduce the number of hungry people globally by 12  – 17 per cent. 3  As with small-scale producers generally, policy makers must distinguish between the minority of women farmers who are empowered and the marginalised majority, towards whom policies should be targeted. Rising private investment For companies and investors, securing access to increasingly scarce and valuable land, water, and agricultural commodities is highly attractive.  Agricultural foreign direct investment (FDI) in developing countries rose from $600m annually in the 1990s to $3bn in 2005  – 07 4    –  focused largely on agricultural land and industrial-scale agricultural production, often through public  – private partnerships (PPPs  –  see Box 1). Box 1: Public  – private partnerships (PPPs) in agriculture  With support from both governments and donors, there has been a proliferation of global and regional partnerships that combine public and private funds to catalyse agricultural investment. These PPPs include the World Economic Forum‟s „New Vision for Agriculture‟ 5  and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced at the G8 Summit in 2012 (with links to the African Unio n‟s Grow Africa plan). Donor spending on PPPs rose from $234m in 2007 to $903m in 2010. 6 While most PPPs are yet to be truly implemented, serious concerns have already been raised around their: ã  Lack of transparency, e.g. on benefit sharing, social and environmental impacts, and food security implications; ã  Lack of accountability for social, food security, and gender impacts, in the absence of adequate monitoring and evaluation of projects or grievance mechanisms for affected communities; ã  Lack of participation by governments, farmers, workers, and communities in project design and implementation, including free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC  –  see section 3) of affected communities and their members; ã  Lack of demonstrable focus on rights, sustainability, and empowerment; ã  Lack of attention to benefiting women and including them in decision making; ã  Lack of alignment with international guidelines, e.g. the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, or national government policy; ã  Creation of parallel policy processes that are out of step with or undermine more inclusive approaches.
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