Inclusive agribusiness models in the Global South: The impact on local food security
This paper (PDF) published in the Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability argues there is little evidence that shows inclusive business initiatives improve the food and nutrition security (FNS) of many. Private business is increasingly presented as a leading agent of development in policy, also in the pursuit of developmental goals beyond business, such as food security (SDG2 in particular). It is argued that the private sector is more effective and efficient in raising investment capital and targeting goals than entities of the public sector and civil society. This has spawned inclusive business models — ways of doing business that benefit the poor as producers or consumers. This contribution seeks to position this inclusive agribusiness approach in its political-economy context and assess its merits in pursuing food security through impact pathways such as availability and access (income). While there is literature on inclusive business and food security, its scope tends to be limited to participating smallholders while overlooking other community members. Limitations of the inclusive agribusiness approach: Firstly, an increasing income does not automatically change in better FNS. Secondly, inclusive business models are selective in favour of resource-rich farmers. Thirdly, most inclusive business programmes are set up with donor resources that run out once the startup period is over. Then, a shakeout may occur, weeding out marginal participants. Thus, the approach tends to increase inequality in the community. To conclude, strategies based on promoting inclusive agribusiness should be accompanied by policies targeting the poor in both social services (health, education, skills training) and alternative employment opportunities beyond farming.