Knowledge for a sustainable world

A new joint programme is addressing the barriers to, and opportunities for, participation of small-scale producers in international agrifood supply chains. This programme - "Small-Scale Producers and Standards in Agrifood Supply Chains", is a three-way partnership between IIED, NRI and DFID, and established its own website at in November 2005.

Large food retailers in the UK and elsewhere in Europe have developed markets for high quality food from around the world, at an affordable price and in all seasons, produced according to high ethical, environmental and safety standards. This creates new market opportunities for producers in developing countries. However, the management of the supply chains - involving rationalization, standards and certification - represents a potential barrier for small-scale producers in these countries, where they are often the backbone of the rural economy.

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Focusing on horticultural food crops exported from sub-Saharan Africa into international markets, and particularly into the UK, the programme aims to create opportunities for small-scale producers in developing countries to participate in international supply chains, against a background of rising commercial and public standards in the horticultural sector. The programme team will work closely with food retailers, manufacturers, standard-setting agencies, traders and producers to achieve these aims.

The programme has three underlying themes:

  • dialogue among the wide range of stakeholder groups on the future direction and development of both private sector and public standards;
  • provision of information on standards and compliance, including costs and benefits, to assist small-scale producers in selecting appropriate beneficial market-entry points;
  • development of 'good practice' in standard-setting and implementation, using shared learning and innovative solutions to encourage inclusion of small-scale producers.

For more information, contact Dr Andrew Graffham or Dr John Orchard (