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Stakeholders harp on data sharing to meet consumers’ demands

By Editor   |   12 October 2016   |   4:19 am

Arancha González

Arancha González

Stakeholders have reiterated the importance of collecting and analysing big data to inform decisions enabling small-scale producers to improve their livelihoods and better respond to consumers.

According to the stakeholders, using such data assists producers in meeting demands for products that respond to their social and environmental values.

‘The consumer is king and queen,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘Consumers want good trade – more environmentally sustainable, more socially responsible – and better consumer protection.’

Indeed, the stakeholders emphasized that meeting such sustainability demands is part of running a competitive business today.According to them, to create truly sustainable value chains, collecting data and insights from all players, not just big businesses and policymakers but also producers, is critical.

‘We need a participatory model in which the farmer has a say in the indications for [what it means to have] improved livelihood,’ said Nyagoy Nyong’o, Executive Director, Fairtrade Africa. ‘We must collect different sources of data because different players look for different data types.’

The work of collecting comprehensive data begins at the farm level, according to Ian Hope-Johnstone, Senior Director, Agricultural Sustainability, PepsiCo.

‘If we don’t secure the security of the farm, we won’t be able to look then at market- and product-specific research,’ he said. ‘The first intent is to secure sustainable resilience at the farm and landscape levels.’

For small-scale farmers and firms to better meet international quality, social and environmental standards – increasingly a prerequisite for tapping into lucrative value chains – several overarching challenges need to be addressed.

According to Nyong’o of Fairtrade Africa, these challenges in Africa in particular include scope, as there are hundreds of producer organizations speaking a variety of languages; lack of transparency on women’s perspectives; timeliness of data; and the limited use of digital and mobile technology.

Overcoming these challenges would pave the way for the collection of more accurate, inclusive data, which would enable actors to make more informed decisions.

‘Every regulator needs data, better data, more reliable data,’ said Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), European Commission. ‘We also need digital and internet solutions for data collection. Digitalization of data in developing countries is our priority.’

The execution of informed decisions based on better data helps attract private sector investment for development, added Jager, which is a key factor in ensuring the sustainability of these initiatives. The public and private sectors must work together.

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Arancha GonzálezITC

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