Why was SCAN Developed?
The SCAN approach was developed based on the following observations:
As markets for sustainable products continue to grow producers gain a unique opportunity to utilize a ‘specialty market’ structure to sell higher priced products while also incorporating a high level of social and environmental integrity. Market growth for sustainable products has created an increased opportunity for producers to participate in specialty markets that ensure sustainable development impacts. This has created an increased need for larger-scale technical assistance delivery across a growing number of commodities and regions.
Overlap in Training Practices:
There is a growing area of overlap between the objectives and implementation frameworks of different standards. Most initiatives now promote a similar set of social, health, economic and environmental standards and realize that insufficient attention has been given to product quality and the overall market implications.
With the high transaction costs associated with the delivery of training and the depth of the technical assistance needed throughout commodity producing countries, there lies a clear opportunity to improve efficiency and scale. By reducing overlap and creating a collaborative network, initiatives will be better able to identify and implement best practice and create substantial administrative and cost savings.
Gaps in Business Training:
Most technical assistance programs currently in place are topic specific and are often linked to a specific sustainability initiative. Similarly, existing training activities that these initiatives conduct often focus only on achieving compliance due to insufficient resources to go further. As a result, today very limited resources exist to train producers on how to manage a sustainable business and actively participate in international sustainable and specialty markets. By improving training to include modules on access to sustainable markets, marketing and risk management, producers will better able to take a more proactive role in planning and sales.
Quality Management Systems:
There is a lack of coherence in quality management systems (QMS) procedures amongst most standards-based initiatives. Most initiatives allow group certification for organized smallholders on the condition that they apply some form of Internal Control System (ICS). At present, the ICS’s required by the different standards bodies are neither standardized nor consistent and, more importantly, do not always promote a sound “business management” approach. One producer group should have only one ICS (or QMS) even if the group wishes to comply with more than one global standard. By ensuring that the technical assistance package delivered through SCAN includes comprehensive training on best practices in QMS, producers will improve their ability to successfully comply and gain improved market access.
Enhanced Producer Organization:
Producer organization is often a prerequisite to enabling access to sustainable markets for smallholder producers. Compliance-based technical assistance strategies typically do not have the resources or tools to build the requisite organizational structures for producers. Also important is developing improved producer access and interaction with international markets, an approach which requires effective producer organization. Standards bodies agree that producer organization plays a central role in enabling disadvantaged producers to benefit from sustainable markets. Specifically, SCAN technical assistance will have a particular focus on facilitating the organization of unorganized producers and improve the organizational capacity of existing organizations.
Lack of Resources:
Comparatively little attention has been given by initiatives to support large-scale transition to sustainable production and management due to limited resources available to any one initiative. By pooling efforts, resources and expertise, SCAN is at the forefront of developing a program that supports the ‘mainstreaming’ of sustainable commodity production and trade.
The SCI’s Response:
The aim of SCAN is to link the efforts of the many ‘sustainability initiatives’ in practice today through a common platform for improved technical assistance delivery. By addressing the above listed limitations SCAN will work with existing networks to create a more cohesive technical assistance platform for producers globally.