Sustainable business models to facilitate technological and economic upgrading of vegetable farmers

UNEP DTU and its partners analyse and develop value networks and sustainable business models to facilitate technological and economic upgrading of vegetable farmers in Ghana. Focus is on small-scale irrigation and organic-residue-based fertilizers, which are key technologies for increasing vegetable farmers’ resilience to climate change.

To upscale farmers’ use of irrigation and soil amendment technologies, it is important that the technologies are both robust, affordable and accessible. Often, the initial capital investment for implementing new technologies is too expensive for smallholders, which hinders their diffusion and adoption. Thus, it is crucial to analyse and develop inclusive and sustainable business models (ISBMs) that will help farmers overcome the initial investment barriers and make it affordable to implement and sustain the new technologies.

The business models should cover the whole value network: not just farmers, but also technology providers, vegetable marketers, and consumers – and consider processes and mechanisms of value creation and delivery, value proposition, and value capture at each node in the value network. From this perspective, the project will analyse contract farming among other business models such as the product and service model in terms of their suitability for the vegetable value networks in Ghana.

A key outcome of the project is the development of durable ISBMs where smallholders can cooperate and act as a stronger supplier in the vegetable value network. These new business models will also improve farmers’ relationships with their stakeholders, creating new opportunities for co-investment, and facilitating knowledge sharing with producers, suppliers, processors, retailers and customers.

The project will furthermore analyse the dynamics of irrigation-technology diffusion in sub-Saharan Africa, which is an important context for ISBMs and producer upgrading.

And it will train PhD and Masters students in Ghana and carry out stakeholder engagement activities.

The project comprises work package 4 of the project ‘Building vegetable farmers resilience to climate change’, which is a collaborative research project led by Aarhus University with the participation of the University of Ghana, the University of Cape Coast, Technical University of Denmark (UNEP DTU Partnership and DTU Centre for Technology Entrepreneurship), as well as private-sector partners in Ghana and Denmark. The project receives support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark through a research programme administered by the Danida Fellowship Centre.

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Focus area: Business Models and Markets

Country / Region: Africa, Ghana

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Simon Bolwig

Simon Bolwig

Senior Researcher

Phone: +45 4533 5319