Traceability Matters: Agribusiness Matters Digest Edition

Plus! Few Upcoming Event Updates and Videos from Recent Dialogues.

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the Digest Edition of Agribusiness Matters.

Orientation: My name is Venky, and I write Agribusiness Matters for straight talk on Agritech, Digital Agriculture, and Agribusiness Matters, especially as it stands in the nick of transformation.

I must start off with a sheepish apology. I haven’t been regular in posting digest editions of this newsletter, as I have been writing more free posts than subscriber-only posts.

I want to do one special digest edition for Traceability matters because my last two subscriber-only posts have been focused on understanding the peculiar challenges we face in deploying Traceability systems in our food and agriculture systems.

13 Things They Don't Tell You About Traceability in Food and Agribusiness

In his classic tome, “Small is Beautiful”, E.F. Schumacher quotes Gandhi, in his acerbic wit, berating those, who are “dreaming of systems so perfect that no-one will need to be good”.

Well, for all you know, Mahatma Gandhi could have been talking about Traceability systems. Traceability systems have been grossly misunderstood, partly due to the copious amounts of greenwashing it has received.

In this introductory piece on Traceability, I tried to blow up the innocuous image of Traceability as an innocent, do-gooder system. If your mental image of Traceability boils down to “Traceability=Fair and Ethical Food System + Rise in Farmer Incomes”, nothing could be further from the truth than that.

Traceability Certifications and Mangalwar Idiocracy Syndrome

How did we come to this strange predicament that certifications have come to mean exploitation by another name?

In this companion piece, I track the origin, evolution, and stasis of popular certification mechanisms such as RSPO and RTRS. I also examine the structural problems involved in designing Traceability systems, which are often designed from the context of the consumer, creating backward trust linkages that originate from the consumer and go all the way, back to the producer.

Event Updates:

Agribusiness Matters Dialogues:

Few weeks back, I had the opportunity to spend time and have a real conversation with Dr. Emmanuel Murray. In these times of Zoom fatigue, It was such a pleasure to have a conversation in flesh and blood. As a rookie, I tried to record the video using my Mac. The results haven’t been great. The video ended abruptly. I am yet to upgrade my video gear. Please promise me, you will not judge me for the amateur video quality:) I am getting better.

In the first part of the dialogue, we discuss
- Emmanuel's experience with Dr. Verghese Kurien
- How has the Farmer Producer Organization (FPO)'s promise has fared on the ground?
- How the hastening pace of reforms has perversely contributed to stalling the potential of FPOs.
- How did the Amul model fare in oilseeds and what did the ecosystem gain, despite its failures?
- The limitations of an institution in addressing social issues.

That’s all for today! Enjoy your Monday!