Sustainable agriculture has become a mainstream issue. Demand for sustainable food products is growing rapidly and there is an ever-increasing understanding that the environmental, social and economic impacts of agriculture are directly effecting human development from food security to climate change. To address this growth, we must face the scale of the challenge, while also avoiding marginalizing smallholders with market demands beyond their capacity.
The challenge can best be addressed by leveraging the resources, experiences and skills of organizations and groups working to promote sustainable agriculture, building upon existing programs and infrastructure. Given the vulnerable position of smallholders and their critical role in sustainable development, the required cooperation and collaboration must focus on building the farming and management capacity of smallholder groups to achieve long-term sustainability.
Fundamentally, support must be based on the prioritized needs of smallholders, and delivered in a manner that is accessible and effectively transfers knowledge.
To address the needs of producer groups, and foster cooperation and collaboration between standards programs, support must focus on generic and pre-competitive issues – while supporting producers’ access to differentiated and higher-value markets, when possible. In order to promote this level of cooperation and collaboration, a neutral facilitator is required that can bring key players together.
This facilitation, and indeed the entire process, must be efficient, transparent and able to demonstrate and measure positive outcomes and impact. SCAN is based on these precepts and has been developed to address this critical need.
How does SCAN work?
For the first time, 17 international organizations have joined forces to create a global network and national platforms to support smallholders through directed technical assistance on sustainable farm and business management. This cooperation works at both the international and national level. At the international level, SCAN Partners work together to identify key support areas, share information and training materials and guide the overall process.
At the national level, SCAN Partners and key local actors (both public and private) form a support platform. National platforms are designed to conduct needs assessments; adapt and develop tools and curriculum; train trainers; and deliver technical assistance. Needs assessments are then conducted at the producer level, where customized programs are developed and implemented based on the prioritized needs.
The experience at the national level feeds into, and strengthens, SCAN at the international level. Results are presented to key decision-makers to promote supportive international policy.
SCAN focuses on the following training and capacity building themes prioritized by the International Platform:
- Good Agricultural Practices and Sustainable Practices
- Organizational Development
- Financial Literacy and Risk Management
- Quality Management Systems and Traceability
- Market Information (access and use)
Overview of the SCAN process:
What are SCAN’s current activities?
2012-Present: SCAN is implementing national, 3-year, coffee-sector programs in Guatemala, Peru and Vietnam. The Guatemala project is supported by McDonald’s USA and McDonald’s Canada. In addition to creating a national platform (with leading actors in the coffee sector like ANACAFE and FEDECOCAGUA), it is developing a full set of training materials, conducting comprehensive training of trainers and directly training 4,500 producers; as well as creating a web-based resource tool to share and discuss the results of the program.
In Peru and Vietnam similar programs are up and running with support from the Inter-American Development Bank/MIF (Peru) and The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Vietnam and co-funding Peru). The Peru program includes a partnership with the Junta Nacional de Café (JNC) and the Peru Ministry of Agriculture, while in Vietnam SCAN works directly with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
By partnering with key local institutions, SCAN’s work is integrated into national curriculum and extension activities, greatly enhancing its reach, impact and sustainability. SCAN uses the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), for independent, internationally recognized impact assessment, and ITC’s database, SustainabilityXchange to store and make SCAN’s training material globally accessible.
What are SCAN’s plans for the future?
SCAN is seeking funding for further generic tool and curriculum development in all of the five key support areas identified. This includes validating and applying tools and training through activities aimed at training trainers and the direct application of technical assistance at the producer level, based on specific needs assessments. SCAN is working closely with the ISEAL Alliance to link with their broader “scaling up of impacts” program and has formed a partnership with UNDP’s Green Commodities Facility to support the establishment of sustainable sectors in developing countries.
A summary of the 4 country-level needs assessments will soon be published by UNCTAD. As well, UNCTAD and the SCI are promoting the establishment of the UN Forum on Sustainability Standards, a high-level forum coordinated by UNEP, FAO, ITC, UNIDO and UNCTAD/SCI to inform policy makers about sustainability standards and how to understand them within a sustainable development perspective. SCAN’s activities are designed as a fundamental element to inform that process and help promote supportive international and national policy.
SCAN will continue supporting cooperation and collaboration of its international members and with national actors through the SCAN platforms.
SCAN’s strategic plan (2015- 2019) identifies the following key objectives:
- Strong, effective international and national platforms are established which function globally as a reference for Technical Assistance on sustainable agriculture.
- Training materials and programs are jointly developed and implemented, addressing the real needs of producers and identifying best practices for sustainable production and trade.
- SCAN successfully expands geographically and across sectors (with 6 national platforms established and working in both the coffee and cocoa sector).
- The delivery and acceptance of standards and certification/verification programs is strengthened.
- Strong policy linkage and influence for SCAN and its partners is created.
- SCAN has a strong resource base to achieve its objectives.
Click for here for more information on the SCAN structure and a list of SCAN partners.