Supporting sustainable agricultural supply chains and standards

Project description

Title: Programme for sustainable agricultural supply chains and standards
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Lead executing agency: Varies by country
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

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Smallholders produce about 90 per cent of cocoa worldwide and well over 70 per cent of the world's coffee, cotton and rubber. These people are the first link in a long supply chain, but despite this, they are all too often unable to make a living from their efforts in growing crops. Entire families, including children, work in fields and plantations day in, day out, but this is not enough to generate a living income. They are denied a dignified life and a secure existence. In many places, climate change is hampering growing conditions, which is making the situation for farmers even worse. The consequence, more and more often, is rural exodus and migration. In light of this, the German Government has identified a need for action, with ‘deforestation-free supply chains’ forming part of the current coalition agreement. This has made the programme even more relevant.


People in global agricultural supply chains are leading dignified lives and earning a living wage, and products are being grown and traded fairly . Forest destruction has been stopped and we are protecting our ecosystems and our climate. The agricultural sector is an attractive field of employment, which also offers young people prospects for the future.

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The programme for sustainable agricultural supply chains and standards is a transnational project that focuses on agricultural resources such as coffee, cacao, bananas, soya, rubber, palm oil and cotton. Because many of the challenges facing farmers are not limited to one region or one resource, an improvement in production conditions can only be achieved across the board adopting a holistic approach.

That is why the project aims to boost sustainability in agricultural supply chains by supporting closer-knit national and international cooperation with actors from the private sector and with local and national governments. The project uses multi-actor partnerships (MAP) to work with representatives from the worlds of business, politics, science, civil society and industry.

Specialist advisors are developing strategic approaches to improving working conditions and wages in the agricultural sector and are implementing them along the supply chains together with all actors. With the help of innovative information and communication technology (ICT), solutions are being developed that can be used in different areas and situations. Specialists are also advising the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on strategies, concepts and current developments.


  • The issue of environmental compatibility and production conditions in global agriculture is successfully represented in international and national dialogue bodies.
  • The supported multi-actor partnerships increasingly implement aspects of sustainability in the global supply chains for coffee, cacao and bananas. For example, the proportion of certified cacao products on the German market has significantly increased.
  • By supporting forms of farming that preserve forests, the programme has helped to protect forests in Indonesia and Côte d’Ivoire. This has made an important contribution to preserving biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gases.
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