Vol. 53 No. 3/2019: Multi-stakeholders for better food systems

The more globalisation moves forward, the more complex the interplay between different stakeholders becomes. Sustainable Development Goal 17 is dedicated to partnerships for the goals to harmonise and plan interaction among multi-stakeholders together. But what does this mean for the agricultural and food sector in rural areas in particular? A food system comprises not only traditional value chains, but also consumption and the environment. This calls for concerted action among governments, the private sector and civil society to achieve a sustainable andhealthy food system, including its value chains, while considering the different conflicts of interest among the parties involved.

In order to understand each other, a common language should be created. This can be achieved through standards and certifications, but also through clearly formulatedagreements such as in contract farming. Over the last decades, products produced under labour and social standards or certified by sustainability standards such as Fairtrade or organic standards have come into play and are more popular with the consumer side. But who benefits from this? Is it the small-scale farmers, who have to adapt their production, increase their income and yields, reduce health and environmental risks caused by inappropriate farming practices and enhance nutrition diversity on their own plate while creating traceability and transparency at the same time?

This edition gives special emphasis to this complexity of actors and their interests to work together, sometimes even at inter-sector level. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, for local circumstances play an important role. We have chosen examples of typical interactions in food systems either to show who is involved in a particular case and what the outcome is – the added value of the common action – or to point out advantages and disadvantages of all actors involved and their incentive to participate in a specific step in the value chain. 

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