Events and insight for sustainability

Sustainable smallholder development

14 March
15 March

Timeslots are provisional and exact timings may change


Event opening


Dilemma: To develop, or not to develop land, that is the question

Identifying land that is suitable for agricultural development within concessions can often be difficult. Companies must take into account a number of considerations, such as the wellbeing of local communities and commitments around HCV and HCS, which complicates the selection process. While companies will want to ensure that land developed is maximised, they must do so without risking any social and environmental trade-off.

We will kick off the conference with an interactive session that challenges the delegate audience to decide in a number of different scenarios whether they, as a sustainable corporation, should develop land on a concession in a fictional country, or whether they should abandon the project altogether.


Simon Lord, group chief sustainability officer, Sime Darby

Rikke Netterstrom, managing director, Helikonia

Tracy Farrell, regional director, greater Mekong program, Conservation International


Capacity building: What is the role of major companies in supporting farmer independence and stability?

This session will discuss what journey business must embark on to lay the foundation for a future of sustainable smallholder farming. Our panellists will explore how business models can align interests of business, government and farmers alike, and how collaborative effort can empower farmers at scale. We will address questions like:

  • What role will business take to build capacity for sustainable smallholders?
  • How do we take it to scale with the huge number of smallholders spread across geographies?
  • How do we incentivise local governments?
  • How do we incentivise smallholders?
  • Who pays?


Alan Johnson, senior operations officer, IFC

Mike Warmington, director of microfinance partnerships, One Acre Fund

Roberto Vega, head smallholder policy & food chain relations, Syngenta

Anna Turrell, senior public affairs manager – sustainability, Nestlé




Session one: Certification: Does it deliver on business expectations?

This discussion will focus around what is required for certification to better benefit business and smallholder farmers. We will ask our panellists to address:

  • Does certification do what business wants it to? Does it do what farmers want it to?
  • How can certification more wholly consider social, environmental and economic factors?
  • How can the value of certification be brought across better to farmers at a local level?
  • If certification cannot deliver transformation, what can?



Daan de Vries, innovation and technology director, UTZ

Sarah Wakefield, food sustainability manager, Co-operative

Euan Venters, commercial director, Fairtrade Foundation

Session two: Solutions to climate change: Climate-smart agriculture

This session will provide a two-sided debate on the potential of CSA as a solution to climate-related risk. We will ask out panellists to assess the current state of CSA, name examples of successful implementation and discuss what further development of CSA is necessary to build environmental resilience and avert future supply shocks.



Nico Mounard, CEO, FarmAfrica

Paul Macek, vice president of programs, World Cocoa Foundation

Alison Cairns, global advocacy director, Unilever

Noelle O’Brien, climate smart agriculture, Kenya lead, DAI

Session three: Communicating the business case for farmers

This session will focus on how companies can better make the business case for change to farmers. We will address how business can better communicate and motivate farmers to achieve impact at scale and avoid future supply risks to their business.



Winnifred Mailu, inclusive markets advisor – Africa, Christian Aid

Carla Veldhuyzen van Zanten, senior advisor small producer organization development, Fairtrade International 

Alison Ward, CEO, CottonConnect




Session one: Curbing deforestation: aligning sustainable forests, agriculture, and food security

In this session, our panellists from the NGO and business community will share some of their work with smallholder farmers to reduce/eliminate deforestation. We will ask specific questions around: 

  • What techniques work, and why;
  • How do these techniques go beyond conserving forests, and raise livelihoods of farmers;
  • What is the impact of these techniques on the ground in key countries like Brazil and Indonesia;
  • Can these effective techniques be scaled elsewhere, for example Africa;
  • Are NGO and corporate initiatives doing enough, or is there a need for jurisdiction;
  • What’s the view of smallholders themselves; are engagement efforts effective, what works, and what doesn’t?



Mark Wong, senior vice president - sustainability, Sime Darby

Dharsono Hartono, president director, PT Rimba Makmur Utama

Bastien Sachet, CEO, TFT

Session two: Nutrition and water at farm level: the business case for improving smallholder well-being

In this session, we will discuss the business case for companies to improve farmer well-being to drive economic development and ultimately help companies to meet goals on sustainable and profitable growth. We will hear how best practice in providing good nutrition and corporate water stewardship supports both the smallholder farmer and business objectives – through supply chain resilience, productivity, community development and so on.



Michael Alexander, global head of water, environment, agriculture sustainability, Diageo

Ruth Romer, private sector advisor, WaterAid

Session three: Female empowerment: Essential for future global food security

In this session, we will discuss how business, NGOs and government can address gender-specific barriers. Our panellists will report from commodity and geography specific case studies, and provide advice on how different stakeholders can capitalise on the critical potential of female farmers in supply chains.



Sophie Tranchell, CEO, Divine

Briony Mathieson, head of group corporate communications, Olam




Collaborating for finance: How to manage and make partnerships for finance work

This session will host a multi-perspective discussion from organizations engaging in these blended finance models. The discussion will focus on how to best make financial partnerships for shared risk work. We will be asking our panelists to provide top tips on:

  • Making shared decision-making work;
  • Overcoming conflicts of interest;
  • Deciding appropriate levels of financial commitment;
  • Overcoming implementation challenges in day-to-day partnership management; and
  • Avoiding negative reputation impact by association.



Kate Wylie, global sustainability director, MARS

Hoi-Ming Mak, initiate lead "Impactor", ING NL

Chris Isaac, senior director, investments & business development, AgDevCo

Urvi Kelkar, global agriculture policy and partnerships manager, AB InBev


Dragon’s Den: Innovative investment mechanisms for long-term finance

In this Dragon’s Den style session, our speakers will pitch blended finance mechanisms that share risks across parties and to more effectively manage risk. Our audience will assess how effective these models are and what opportunities exist. We will be asking our speakers to address:

  • What can these innovative, blended finance mechanisms look like, and how can big business further support them?
  • How are interests aligned and benefits shared equally across all participants?
  • What type of financial model grants itself to a given service, or is it one size fits all approach?



Johnny Brom, director, innovative finance, IDH

Nicko Debenham, vice president, head of sustainability, Barry Callebaut 


Dragon’s Den: New horizons for community based sustainable agriculture development

In this session Sime Darby will present their new approach for community based sustainable agriculture development to a panel of judges, acting as “Dragons” from the popular British TV show ‘Dragon’s Den’. Our Dragons will assess and critique the Sime Darby approach and decide whether they, as Stakeholders, are convinced or not, before we ask the delegate audience to make their final vote. 

Simon Lord, group chief sustainability officer, Sime Darby


Erinch Sahan, head of private sector team, Oxfam

Bastien Sachet, CEO, TFT


Digital data technology: Can it provide solutions at scale?

Technology can facilitate better information and knowledge sharing between actors in the supply chain and simplify risk assessment at the farm level. This allows business to achieve greater scale with their smallholder programme. Low-tech solutions like as mobile and app technology can allow farmers better access to information, knowledge and training, and to be in control of their farms and livelihoods at a low cost.

But there are still challenges to be overcome. Technologies at the farm level must be easily accessible, have adequate network coverage and offer seamless methods for farmers to input information and receive feedback virtually, by phone or in-person. This will benefit companies if data collection technology is adequate and user friendly at the farmer and supplier level, and a well-structured, easily accessible platform that accumulates, organises and stores this data.  

In this discussion, we will focus on how low-technology solutions and data collection technology can reach full its potential, to benefit farmers and all other supply chain actors alike. We’ll assess how far existing technology goes today, and how these must develop to enable greater transparency and knowledge-sharing in supply chains, across supply chains.



Miodrag Mitic, managing director, Farmforce

Katie Hoard, global manager of agricultural development, Anheuser-Busch InBev




Commodity-specific breakouts:

Each breakout session will focus closely on the specific issues and challenges that affect smallholders working with different commodities, and what organisations are doing to address these. In these interactive sessions, our panellists will draw from their knowledge and experience to frame the relevant discussion points for the breakout group.


Breakout one: Coffee


Herbert Lust, vice president and managing director, Europe, Conservation International

Clare Salter, senior communications manager, EMEA, Starbucks

Gabriel Chait, green coffee sourcing and sustainability manager, Stumptown Coffee

Leonard Kachebonaho, CEO/managing director, KPD Plc (a coffee co-operative, Karagwe, Tanzania)


Breakout two: Cocoa


Cathy Pieters, director, cocoa life program, Mondelez

Paul Macek, vice president of programs, World Cocoa Foundation


Breakout three: Cotton


Nick Earlam, founder and CEO, Plexus Cotton

Emma Keller, agricultural commodities manager, WWF UK

Phil Townsend, sustainable raw materials specialist, M&S




Corporate-supplier relationships: How to build long-term and meaningful partnerships

In this session, our panellists will address what the business case is for going beyond temporary supply agreements and engage in more meaningful, long-term supply relationships. Our panellists will provide practical examples of successful buyer-supplier relationships and share their top tips for making these work.



Ronald Guendel, global head of food chain relations, Bayer Crop Science

Jonathan Horrell, director sustainability, Mondelez

Gabriel Chait, green coffee sourcing and sustainability manager, Stumptown Coffee

Iris van der Velden, manager innovation finance, IDH


Pre-competitive collaboration: How willing are companies to engage in knowledge-sharing across agriculture supply chains

Following on the previous session, it cannot be disputed that there is tremendous value to greater knowledge sharing, communication and collaboration and across agriculture supply chains. In an ideal world, organisations could come together in honest, pre-competitive space to work on common issues, share critical types of data and experience to find better solutions. Clearly, this is easier said than done.

This discussion will critically assess the potential of pre-competitive collaboration as means to greater communication and information exchange. Our panellists will address questions such as:

  • What might pre-competitive collaboration look like and is it realistic?
  • To what extent are companies truly willing to be fully transparent and disclose information to their competitors?
  • What are the obstacles to making pre-competitive collaboration work, and how can they be overcome?

John Magnay, head of agriculture, Opportunity International

Erinch Sahan, head of private sector team, Oxfam

Clare Salter, senior communications manager, EMEA, Starbucks

Herbert Lust, vice president and managing director, Europe, Conservation International


End of conference

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