Let’s Welcome the Benevolent Aggregator

A Benevolent Aggregator is a processor, packer, or raw material collector that works in the best interest of its farmers as part of a holistic model.
by on Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Solution to Empowering Small Farmers


Farming is hard work and high risk. Making it to the harvest of a marketable crop is no easy feat.

To go successfully from seed to harvest, a farmer must work hard to direct irrigation, fertilization, and the management of weeds and pests. Then add in the uncontrollable variables such as weather and animals. 

The Supply Chain Struggle

Yet, the real challenge often begins for a farmer after the harvest. Difficulties finding a market can often lead to losses of harvests. And even when there is a market, various factors complicate the delivery of goods from producers to end consumers. Farmers may be unable to achieve scale, quality control, or certifications. Along with other logistics, these issues can drive farmers to rely on local traders, brokers, and wholesalers. These middlemen connect them to the packers, and processors who aggregate small farmer outputs and connect them to downstream markets—distributors, retailers, and brands that reach the consumer. 

The processors working with raw materials lower input costs to increase profitability. They are almost always incentivized to do so. 

And it is the farmers who end up struggling. In many cases, where there aren’t multiple sales options, prices are determined by limited market opportunities. Even when there are multiple aggregators, the market still obliges small producers to adhere to low input pricing. 

It’s a recipe for disaster. 

Image via Alaffia, one of the benevolent aggregators part of our network empowering communities in West Africa.

Enter Benevolent Aggregator

What is a benevolent aggregator exactly? It is a processor, packer, or raw material collector that works in the best interest of its farmers as part of a holistic model. The benevolent aggregator works with downstream markets to achieve premium, or at least fair, pricing models. These models allow for greater returns to farmers. A benevolent aggregator commits to buying outputs and finding the best market opportunity for all harvest grades. Moreover, they are willing to support farmer partners to obtain key certifications. 

Downstream brands and retailers must support benevolent aggregators with purchase contracts and premium pricing. These agreements pass premium pricing and future contracts to farmers and empower regenerative farming systems. 

The “Benevolent Aggregator” is the future of small farmer empowerment.

These aggregators refuse to exploit farmers. Instead, they work with them to innovate, certify, and validate. With their support, farmers access new market opportunities. This means living wages and greater investments into their communities. 

Consumer experience

Every purchase has consequences. We all know this by now. And when we simply maximize profits by lowering raw material pricing, we will continue to exploit our farmers. Sadly, farmers, as essential as they are, often live in poverty.

Producers Market is partnering with benevolent aggregators. We want to share their stories. And we aim to connect them with market partners who value the integrity of these models. We are building the software to provide tools to capture stories and data from farmers and systems. The vision is to share this information with downstream buyers and ultimately end consumers. In addition to empowering farmers, we want to empower consumers. We want them to understand and properly value the work being done to support farmers, communities, and ecosystems. 

We want to share the story of benevolent aggregators, ensuring that their value is properly captured and rewarded. This endeavor will give more aggregators the economic incentive to become a benevolent aggregator and join the Producers Market community. 

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