Exploring the potential of intersectoral partnerships to improve the position of farmers in global agrifood chains: findings from the coffee sector in Peru

Bitzer, V.C.; Glasbergen, P.; Arts, B.J.M.


Despite their recent proliferation in global agricultural commodity chains, little is known about the potential of intersectoral partnerships to improve theposition of smallholder farmers and their organizations.This article explores the potential of partnerships bydeveloping a conceptual approach based on the sustainablelivelihoods and linking farmers to market perspectivewhich is applied in an exploratory study to six partnerships in the coffee sector in Peru. It is concluded that partnerships stimulate the application of standards to receivemarket access and therefore emphasize human capitaldevelopment of farmers to facilitate certification. Bytransferring knowledge to farmers, partnerships present a new source of technological change, which, in combination with certification,holds potential for improved environmentalmanagement and price premiums for producers. However, the emphasis on certification results in a comparativelynarrow target group of farmers and is associatedwith high financial burdens for producer organizations. Atthe same time, other assets of producer organizations areoften not strengthened sufficiently for them to operatsuccessfully without further external support. This suggeststhat preparing producers for certification is prioritized over empowering organizations toward self-dependence