'The work of WUR was fundamental, it served as a springboard for our future strategy. The insights were a catalyst for us', says Pfahl. 'In 2020 the Farmer Income Lab will accelerate action across our partner supply chains through what we call our Lighthouse Programmes. These sourcing programmes will integrate insights from the research carried out by WUR, Oxfam and Dalberg as a way to bridge the gap in evidence that currently exists.'

Testimonial

Tackling poverty requires a systems approach

'We can't continue business as usual. To contribute to a living income for farmers in developing countries in our value chain, we need to see poverty at system level. In our business we need to better understand our role to effectively reduce vulnerabilities within the food system', says Heather Pfahl of Mars Incorporated, reflecting on research carried out by Wageningen University & Research in cooperation with Mars and others in the Farmer Income Lab.

Heather Pfahl
The work of WUR was fundamental, it served as a springboard for our future strategy. The insights were a catalyst for us.
Heather Pfahl

In the research Wageningen University & Research analysed 19 existing successful initiatives, to learn from success factors in setting up more viable solutions for the food system. The Farmer Income Lab hosted workshops, where the insights from the research of Wageningen University & Research were discussed by the procurement teams at the highest level of the company, and by other stakeholders.

Farmers as part of the food system

'The insights generated highlighted the need for industry not to think in single solutions. There is no one single lever or silver bullet that will radically reduce poverty in global supply chains. We operate within a food system so one lever may have an unintended impact on other impact areas, for example child labour. We need a bundle of customised interventions that reduce risk and meaningfully improve incomes for farming families', says Heather Pfahl of Mars Incorporated. 'Strategies to improve incomes should be based on the local context and requirements of farmers. Companies like Mars can leverage their purchasing and convening power to build effective partnerships that enable farming families to thrive.' The farmer should be seen as part of the wider rural economy and food system. For example, farmers may increase their income by diversifying their production and growing other crops for the domestic market, in addition to exporting crops such as cocoa. 'We at Mars may have a role to play in this as well, by strengthening farm management practices, and connecting farmers to local markets.'

Food Systems Approach

With the Food Systems Approach, Wageningen University & Research is working towards future-proof food systems. We have a set of scientifically proven tools and methodologies available to translate the complex world of food systems into practical and concrete action plans for governments, investment firms, companies and civil society organisations. With the Food Systems Approach, WUR covers all aspects of the food system. The following are key domains here: sufficient food for all, delivering a healthy diet, fair distribution of costs and incomes, sustainability and maintaining biodiversity. The research with Mars Inc focusses on a fair distribution of costs and incomes within the food system.

'Shift the distribution of benefits and risks'

Heather Pfahl is Global Socioeconomic Sustainability Lead at Mars Incorporated. She heads the work on income across the company, with a specific focus on global value chains. Pfahl guides Mars' business segments on the development of their sustainable sourcing strategies to reduce risk, build resilience and meaningfully contribute towards improved incomes of small-scale farming families. 'Putting farmers at the centre of any sustainable sourcing strategy is critical, as well as making fundamental shifts in the way the benefits and risks are distributed in the value chain. We can't do all this on our own', Pfahl says. 'We need to partner with other companies, the agribusiness sector, financial sector, suppliers, governments and with civil society to achieve this bold ambition.'

'The work of WUR was fundamental, it served as a springboard for our future strategy. The insights were a catalyst for us', says Pfahl. 'In 2020 the Farmer Income Lab will accelerate action across our partner supply chains through what we call our Lighthouse Programmes. These sourcing programmes will integrate insights from the research carried out by WUR, Oxfam and Dalberg as a way to bridge the gap in evidence that currently exists.'  

Pfahl calls Wageningen University & Research a knowledgeable and independent institute, and also praises the applied knowledge of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation that specifically works in low and middle-income countries. Pfahl comments: 'The work of WUR helped us reframe our approach to tackling poverty from single-source interventions to understanding our role within the whole food system so that we, alongside other partners, can meaningfully improve incomes.'

Food Systems Approach

With the Food Systems Approach, Wageningen University & Research is working towards future-proof food systems. We have a set of scientifically proven tools and methodologies available to translate the complex world of food systems into practical and concrete action plans for governments, investment firms, companies and civil society organisations. With the Food Systems Approach, WUR covers all aspects of the food system. The following are key domains here: sufficient food for all, delivering a healthy diet, fair distribution of costs and incomes, sustainability and maintaining biodiversity. The research with Mars Inc focusses on a fair distribution of costs and incomes within the food system. ‚Äč