Small farmers need price and volume guarantees

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
6 June 2013

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Food manufacturers should consider providing guarantees on volume or pricing to small farmers to boost the sustainability of the food supply chain.

These private sector companies should also offer payments in regular instalments, rather than simply at harvest time, to provide more stability. The report by MPs on the International Development Committee, Global Food Security, published this week also recommended smallholders are provided with commodity prices and data.

“Smallholders and large commercial producers all need an enabling environment with adequate training, investment in roads, storage and irrigation infrastructure,” said Sir Malcolm Bruce, chairman of the committee and Liberal Democrat MP.

It also suggested the government research stocking food to mitigate the impact of future price increases. The MPs said they recognised storing food on a large scale could be both problematic and costly. But recent volatility – spikes in the price of food in June 2008 and February 2011 – meant “there may be a case for judicious use of stocks to relieve the tightness of markets”. It recommended the government conduct research into the costs, risks, and benefits of such a strategy.

“A number of tangible measures set out in our report could, if implemented, have a significant impact on global food security and directly benefit UK consumers,” Bruce added.

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