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 often 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, pests, and uncontrollable variables such as weather and animals. 

Yet, the real challenge often begins for a farmer after the harvest occurs. Difficulties finding a market can often lead to losses of harvests. Even when there is a market demanding an output, various factors complicate the delivery of goods from producers to end consumers. Inability to achieve scale, quality control, certifications, or logistics can drive farmers to rely on local traders, brokers, and wholesalers to 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 and packers who aggregate raw materials increase profitability by lowering input costs. Since this is often their lead cost driver, they are almost always incentivized to do so. 

As such, it is farmers who struggle in this equation. 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. 

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

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

What is a Benevolent Aggregator? It is a processor, packer, or raw material collector that works in the best interest of its farmers as part of a holistic model. Working with its downstream market, the benevolent aggregator achieves premium pricing models or fair pricing models that allow for greater returns to farmers. A benevolent aggregator commits to buying outputs and finding the best market opportunity for all harvest grades. What’s more, they are willing to invest in supporting farmer partners to obtain key certifications. 

Downstream brands and retailers must support benevolent aggregators with purchase contracts and premium pricing, thereby passing premium pricing and future contracts to farmers and empowering regenerative farming systems. 

These aggregators refuse to exploit farmers, instead working with them to innovate, certify, and validate. With their support, farmers access new market opportunities that provide a living wage and greater investment into their community. 

Consumer experience

Every purchase has consequences. If we simply maximize profits by lowering raw material pricing, we will continue to exploit our farmers, who oftentimes live in poverty despite doing an essential, difficult job. 

Producers Market is partnering with these benevolent aggregators to share their stories and connect them more directly with market partners who value the integrity of these models. We are building the software to provide these benevolent aggregators with the tools to capture stories and data from farmers and systems. The vision is to share this information with downstream buyers and ultimately end consumers, supporting 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. We hope that this endeavor will give more aggregators the economic incentive to become a benevolent aggregator and join the Producers Market community. 

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