Online from: 2011
Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management
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Article citation: Professor S.P. Raj, (2011) "Editorial", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 1 Iss: 1, pp. -
It is my privilege to invite you to peruse this inaugural issue of the Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies (JADEE). Agriculture is arguably the oldest organized productive endeavor in the world. It is the primary, if not sole, occupation for vast numbers of people in developing countries, and one whose vitality preoccupies so many across the world – researchers, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and governments, including world leaders.
Agribusiness contributes to a large proportion of the global economy and is particularly important to developing economies. World leaders and international organizations are prioritizing agribusiness in reaction to volatile food prices and growing concerns over food security. Agri-food resources are becoming as important as energy resources on the stage of global politics, as evidenced in recent decisions by several world organizations.
For the World Bank, investment in agribusiness is crucial in meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. One focal area in its plan is to better link farmers to markets and to strengthen value addition with investments in transport infrastructure, producer organizations, and improved market information and access to credit. The International Finance Corporation is investing in agribusiness to boost food production in developing economies and improve logistics and access to credit for small farmers. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, acknowledging the importance of agribusiness to developing economies, organized a high-level conference on using agribusiness and agroindustries to reduce poverty in Africa. In the meetings of the Group of Eight (G8) industrial countries in 2009, food and the global financial crisis were the focus of discussions, and The Economist noted in a 2011 special report on feeding the world, 17 global companies launched “a new vision for agriculture” at the World Economic Forum, to promote markets for smallholders.
Increasingly, it is recognized that agriculture plays a pivotal role beyond nourishing a populace; it can play a significant role in the livelihoods of rural populations by providing work opportunities related to agribusiness. Indeed, agribusinesses at any scale, even micro-enterprises, begin to provide a path to economic well-being. At the same time, there is the recognition that just as best agricultural practices have to be fine-tuned to local conditions, so too the nurturing of agribusinesses must be adapted to local policies, cultures, and technologies.
The traditional challenge in agriculture, which continues to remain a challenge in some parts of the developing world, has been to improve efficiency. However, even as efficiencies are achieved unintended consequences may surface – ranging from depleted water resources to malnourishment, including over-nourishment and obesity.
Agribusiness can play a critical role in serving the aspirations of societies at different levels of economic development – from providing sustenance to attaining good health, from satisfying the pangs of hunger to satisfying the desires of the palate.
These goals or aspirations focus attention on the entire value chain, from agri-inputs to final consumption, from value preservation to value enhancement, from food security to everyday convenience. They raise important opportunities and challenges, for individual goals need not be addressed sequentially. One, if you will, can help feed the other. For example, as incomes rise in emerging economies and the desire for prepared convenience foods increases, satisfying this market opportunity can provide a livelihood to other segments of the population. New and innovative technologies, such as cold storage facilities, may be developed that also benefit the more basic needs of the population.
In stark contrast to the developed world, developing countries have until now been slow to adopt new practices to effectively organize value-adding activities system-wide. Value-adding activities in agribusiness require investments in agricultural inputs, methods of transport, cold chains, processing, retail, and so forth. These farm-to-fork agri-related activities in turn have great impact on nutrition, education, employment, poverty reduction, and the maintenance of a sustainable environment.
It is clear that agribusiness is global, but for emerging economies in particular, nurturing the growth of agribusiness is critical. This journal aims to take a holistic view of agribusiness in developing countries. At its core is the value chain and its implications for economic and societal development. While the end goal may be clear, the path that leads to it requires intense interaction between learning from practice and practicing what is learned from research.
There are many journals focused on agriculture; there are some pertaining to agribusiness; there are none devoted to agribusiness in developing countries. This journal seeks to fill the void by providing a much-needed vehicle for the dissemination of expertise on agribusiness in emerging economies. Struggles faced by many emerging economies share some common traits and practitioners as well as researchers can benefit from a cross-fertilization of ideas. Our hope for this journal is to provide that forum to appreciate the common challenges, to share the ideas that work or do not, and to identify contexts in which they may be successfully adopted.
Agribusiness as a discipline has been approached from two directions – as an extension of agricultural economics and as the application of business methodologies to the agricultural sector. This journal will embrace both of these understandings of the subject area and aims to represent both equally in an emerging economies context.
The JADEE is, by design, eclectic in approach. It takes a 360° view of agribusiness in developing countries, showcasing research about agriculture and food value chains and the implications for economic development, societal well-being, and public policy in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. It seeks deliberately to find that golden middle – where there is a satisfying balance between relevance and rigor.
The journal's launch is timely. Agribusiness firms along the agriculture and food value chains in developing and emerging economies face opportunities for substantial growth. This growth is fueled by the rising aspirations of domestic customers whose incomes are increasing, by the rapid pace of global investment, and by the loosening of government economic policies.
Scholarly institutions in emerging regions of the world are engaged in relevant research and teaching as never before; they are seeking outlets for their faculty members' research publications. Agribusiness and sustainability issues are regularly featured on conference track listings the world over. While there are many researchers working in this topical area, until recently most publishing has been by authors affiliated to institutions in developed countries. It is hoped that the launch of this journal will encourage all researchers, regardless of global location, to focus more research attention on developing countries, and that it will serve the needs of those scholars who wish to publish their research on agribusiness in emerging markets. Building research capacity in emerging economies will prove to be an important step in the long-term growth and vitality of these economies, especially in the agribusiness arena.
Scrutiny by one's peers is central to scholarly journals; many scholars in the field and reflective practitioners have agreed to volunteer their time and talents to this enterprise, for they see the value of building research capacity in this discipline in developing countries. Joint publishing may result as authors from emerging economies and from developed countries establish affiliations and partnerships similar to those that have been occurring across degree-granting institutions for education and training purposes; the logical next step is collaboration in research and in disseminating that research.
Given JADEE's focus on the application of business methodologies to the food and agricultural sector, it seeks original research on topics pertaining to policies, processes, and practices in the agribusiness arena. It aims to serve the needs of academics, researchers, and policymakers as the leading forum for the dissemination of ideas that probe the synergies between the relevant traditional disciplines – the study of the agricultural food chain and the business value chain – with the ultimate goal of elevating the nutritional well-being and livelihood of people in developing and emerging economies.
The journal seeks to be at the nexus of science, technology, public policy, and business, all of which interact to contribute to healthy societies and sustainable economies.
The papers selected for publication in this inaugural issue have all undergone a double-blind review process and my thanks go out to all the authors and reviewers who have taken the first steps in helping establish this journal. The papers range from the grand and panoramic view of the intellectual landscape to a microscopic look at the granular and practical level. Both views are essential for the vitality of JADEE.
The authors of the first two papers graciously accepted my invitation to submit their research for consideration in this new journal. Their papers have used a wide-angle lens to capture the magnitude and challenges of the task of agribusiness, while the third and the fourth papers have honed in on specific issues. The research approaches taken by the authors in this also span the range of approaches that this journal wishes to encourage – from conceptual pieces to empirical work based on qualitative case studies and statistical analysis of data.
In the first paper, Steven Haggblade has done a marvellous job of providing insights into the agribusiness landscape in Africa. As he notes, “Drawing on 30 years of value chain research in Africa […] agribusinesses provide the economic glue linking agricultural and urban economies. Research in these areas offers vast swaths of fertile ground for informing the private and public decisions necessary to realize the considerable growth potential of African agribusiness systems.” His conclusions, while specific to Africa, mirror the raison d'etre for this journal: “The performance of Africa's rapidly growing agribusiness systems will affect three critical dimensions of the continent's economic development: its overall rate of economic growth, patterns of spatial development and progress towards poverty alleviation.”
The second paper, by Gershon Feder, Regina Birner and Jock Anderson, is remarkable for its scope, looking at disparate parts of the world, and its distillation of what can be learned about the role of private initiative in providing what has traditionally been the purview of public organizations – namely, extension services. The institutional arrangements and the challenges in managing these initiatives are discussed from the case studies spanning Africa, Central and South America, and India. As the authors note, “while private-sector participation can overcome some of the deficiencies that characterize the services provided by public extension systems, there are also challenges that have been (and will be) faced, and therefore private-sector involvement in extension is no panacea”.
Equally important, the authors highlight the change in mindset that needs to take place about what extension services mean – moving from “technology transfer” to a much broader and more holistic approach to serving multiple needs of clients, including helping them understand domestic and global markets, providing information, and of course transfer of technology on both inputs and outputs, and on aspects of business enterprises. Their paper nicely underscores the importance of both private and public sectors in this arena – and that there is no simple formula for success.
The third paper in this issue, by Maru Shete and Roberto Garcia, is a study of the access to credit, or lack of such access, in a small township in northwestern Ethiopia – Finoteselam. The average landholding is <1 hectare and farmers becomes ineligible for credit if they own more than the equivalent of one ox. Using statistical analysis of data collected from a survey, they make vivid the problems faced by farmers in accessing micro-credit. This paper focuses on what the realities are of the everyday struggle for many farmers in the developing world and demonstrates the need to think creatively about how business and finance innovations can help alleviate their struggles and elevate their lives.
The last paper, by Mukhamad Najib and Akira Kiminami, is about food processing by small- and medium-sized enterprises in rural Indonesia, and how clusters may help such firms innovate by cooperating with other firms and universities. How to create an environment that supports the growth of new ideas, be they technological or innovative processes or management practices, will certainly be a key question in nurturing successful agribusinesses.
Each of these papers supports Peter Drucker's observation about the purpose of a business: “Its purpose must lie outside of the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society since business enterprise is an organ of society.”
This is certainly the spirit in which JADEE views the role of agribusiness in developing and emerging economies.
It takes a village to raise a barn …
It is my pleasure to introduce here those who have helped in the founding of this new journal. It takes a community to raise a barn, so also to found a new journal. Some were instrumental in assessing the initial idea, others have encouraged my efforts, yet others have already reviewed or written for the journal. As we proceed, more formal roles and responsibilities will emerge. Much work lies ahead, and I thank those who have already helped. Some of those listed in the editorial and review board may decide to take a respite, but I do look forward to their continued encouragement and hope to receive help from others yet to be enlisted. Last, but not least, my special thanks to Victoria Buttigieg and Cristina Irving of Emerald Publishing for their patience and encouragement in making the launch of this journal a reality.
Professor S.P. Raj
Implementing Agriculture for Development, World Bank Group Agriculture Action Plan: Fy2010–2012, available at: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/Agriculture_Action_Plan_web.pdf (accessed March 4, 2011)
Where Innovation Meets Impact, IFC Annual Report, 2010, available at: www.ifc.org/ifcext/annualreport.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/AR2010_English/$FILE/AR2010_English.pdf (accessed March 4, 2011).
Report on the High-Level Conference on Development of Agribusiness and Agro-Industries in Africa (HLCD-3A), available at: www.hlcd-3a.org/data_all/endversion/HLCD-3A_FinalReport.pdf (accessed March 4, 2011).
“The 9 billion-people question”, Special report on feeding the world, The Economist, February 26, 2011.