01. June 2022

The Living Income June 2022 Workshop: Key learnings

During the second day of the event, panellists addressed how he virtual Living Income Workshop, this event brought together the voices and insights of 21 leading organisations and participants from 66 countries around the world. The aim was to create a space to discuss effective strategies for smallholder livelihoods improvements and to share experiences of promising initiatives. This blog explores some of the key reflections from this event.

Organisations that contributed to the Virtual Living income June 2022 Workshop

During the plenary session on day one, panelists explored the roles of different actors in closing the living income gap. The general agreement was that collaboration of all stakeholders is necessary to develop new strategies and have a more significant impact on improving the living conditions of small-holder farmers and achieving a living income across rural populations.

A recent analysis made by the Farmer Income Lab stressed that collective action is required to achieve agricultural transformation and to have a significant impact on rural poverty. The importance of clear and focused strategies co-created by governments and the private sector together is critical. Both have major roles to play in improving the living conditions of smallholder farmers. It was also pointed out that progress could be achieved by taking into consideration four critical pillars: (i) productivity, (ii) market access/connectivity, (iii) value addition, and distribution, and (iv) risk mitigation.

The Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH also highlighted how critical is to bring together different actors and strengthen international alignment to close the living income gap. It was also stressed how every actor in the supply chain has a role to play in improving the living conditions of smallholder farmers and how collaboration between partners is also crucial. In this sense, the Living Income Roadmap was presented as an innovative way to guide and support stakeholders in their journey to close living income gaps in their supply chain.

The question of what are the critical pillars for an effective living income programme was also the subject of discussion during day one.

It is time to prioritize effective approaches to closing the income gap. Living income strategies have traditionally focused on higher production, prices, and diversification, but it has been clear now that good governance and purchasing practices should also be considered. These new approaches could potentially create an enabling environment that promotes better agricultural practices necessary for an effective living income programme.

During this day, an interesting example of what seems to be an effective approach for a living income program was also examined. Rabobank and Solidaridad presented ACORN which is the world's first direct trade platform that has allowed companies and consumers to offset their CO2 emissions through agroforestry on smallholder farms. This has made it possible to convert agroforestry into value for farmers, incorporating coffee producers into the international carbon credit market allowing them to cash in on their efforts to cut carbon emissions on their farmland.

At the end of the first day, SCOPEinsight and Rikolto explored which drivers behind Living Income can be influenced through strengthening business practices. There is no doubt that stronger farmer organization builds resilient and sustainable communities that make their own decisions. Professionalized farmer organizations have a critical role in both improving and sustaining higher farmer incomes.

During the second day of the event, panelists addressed how credible reporting is necessary to build understanding and buy-in among stakeholders around living income strategies and actions. To enable companies to make credible claims it is crucial to start building a shared understanding of what are good practices for communication. Sustainalytics and Shift discussed during this day how companies are reporting their commitment, strategy, and actions on living income as well as the outcome and impact that has resulted from this. It seems that in some cases transparency is creating a space of credibility and trust and enabling a new space for collaboration with a clear idea of what is working and what needs to be improved to close the living income gap.

Panellists agreed that a joint framework with innovative technical solutions and building an accountability mechanism for all must be developed for companies to make credible claims. Participants also commented that it is necessary to bring everyone on board joining efforts with aligned initiatives, prioritizing key areas of work, and creating a space where everybody engages in peer learning and working strategically toward a true living income action plan.

Day two ended with the question of how do we effectively translate commitment to action? We looked at some examples of initiatives and mechanisms for increasing visibility and scaling impact. The case of Nestle Income Accelerator Program proved to be a concrete and interesting example of how cash incentives could potentially deliver an impact on all farmers.

TRACE system is another practical example of how technology could help to understand the conditions of farmers in companies' supply chains. This technology developed by Fairfood is being used by multiple companies to bring farmers closer to buyers and consumers. Trabocca is one of those organisations that saw the importance of transparency and traceability and decided to use the TRACE system in their Ethiopian supply chain to identify roadblocks and to try to answer the question of whether coffee farmers are earning a living income.

It is also necessary to consider the importance of data as a driver in decision-making and how data ownership and governance impact Living Income goals. The Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) and Tony’s Chocolonely shared their collaborative approaches to putting data and decision-making in the hands of farmers and exploring the building blocks of an equitable data system and scaling efforts to reach more farmers.

Overall, this event provided a space to share experiences and identify strategies to discuss what effective action is needed to enable smallholder farmers to achieve a decent standard of living. Participants also shared with us their key takeaways from what was discussed during the event, some of these comments are available in the image below. LICOP is committed to identifying strategies and generating discussion on the topic of living income at a global level. In the coming year, we hope to build off the global participation of our virtual workshop to provide more learning and sharing opportunities.

Virtual Living Income June 2022 Workshop Participants key insights

A huge thank you to all of those who contributed to the event. To access all of the presentations and resources from the event visit: Virtual Living Income June 2022 Workshop