Agriculture makes up a large part of the economy in many of the countries in which AIID works. Often, a majority of the labour force is working in this sector, but productivity is often low, rural poverty rates high and food security precarious. Climate change, increasing population pressures and soil and water erosion further compound the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in developing countries.
At the same time the increasing modernization and globalization trends in agriculture offer new opportunities as well as challenges for the many smallholder farmers in developing countries. Consumers in developed countries increasingly demand a wide variety of fresh produce year-round which is safe and traceable. This has led to a strong growth of tightly organized global fresh produce value chains linking farmers in developing countries with (super)markets in developed countries. Governments together with private sector and development partners are key players in encouraging the emergence of these value chains, by improving the agricultural investment climate in terms of better functioning markets for farm inputs, reduction in logistic challenges, as well as improving governance (e.g. removing red tape). Farmer-friendly trade policies are also of great importance to allow the fresh produce value chains and therefore farmers to prosper in developing countries.
Smaller farmers, however, often lack the skills and agricultural practices that allow them to participate in these increasingly important agricultural global value chains. And even if they produce according to ‘Global Good Agricultural Practices’ (GlobalGAP), they might receive a small share of the added value due to the governance structure of the primarily ‘buyer-driven’ global value chains. Development interventions therefore not only focus on the improvement of farmers’ skills (for instance by providing adequate training and certification), but also on providing better market (price) information, introducing contractual innovations (e.g. contract farming) as well as setting up farmer cooperatives to enhance the governance structure.
The work of AIID within the theme of agriculture focuses on productive employment and food security.