Traders: Cross-scale sustainability of small-scale food production

Investigating how trade relationships influence the capacity of small-scale production systems to contribute to sustainability

Small-scale producers (i.e. fishers or farmers) are embedded in sets of social and economic relationships with traders (also called buyers or middlemen) that can influence their behaviour and relationships with ecosystems, as well as their incomes. These complex networks of social and trade relationships mediate the interaction of producers with market demands at other scales.Thus, we seek to understand cross-scale interactions mediated by these trade relationships, such as how the local production decisions and subsequent patterns of resource exploitation shape the supply for fish at bigger scales (e.g. cities, global demand); and how such local decisions are affected by actors and processes at regional, national or international scales. We hypothesize that these interactions influence the capacity of small-scale food production systems to contribute to sustainability while maintaining livelihoods and food security at scales beyond local systems.

The project is based on an in-depth analysis of two study cases of small-scale food production through a mixed-methods approach. It will combine network analysis and agent-based modelling, grounded in qualitative insights resulting from fieldwork campaigns. Combining network analysis and agent-based modelling will allow accounting for how diverse trading actors influence and are influenced by, the set of social, economic and social-ecological relationships in which they are embedded.

Case description: The project will analyse two study cases: Small-Scale Fisheries in Mexico; and Small-Scale agriculture in Africa or Latin America (case to be decided).

People: Blanca González García-Mon, Emilie Lindkvist, Örjan Bodin, Maja Schlüter.

Keywords: Small-Scale Food Production, fisheries, agriculture, sustainability, resilience, trade,

Methods: Network analysis, qualitative methods, agent-based modelling

Model: In construction

Publications: In progress

Funding: ERC MuSES