Guarantee the right to social protection and promote decent income and wages for all workers in the agri-food system

Extending social insurance coverage to workers in agrifood systems requires a set of measures to overcome legal, financial, administrative and institutional barriers. This can be done by adapting the legal framework, financing mechanisms, administrative processes and institutional structure to the specific needs and situation of workers and informality in sectors related to food systems. Good practices to achieve this goal include taking into account seasonality and income level in the collection of dues in agricultural sectors, subsidized by governments in some countries; facilitate access to registration through one-stop-shops, digital services and collective registration agreements; promote social dialogues and partnerships with cooperatives and producer organizations to increase awareness and trust in the system; and incorporate mechanisms to ensure compliance and establish incentives for participation. Such a strategy of extending coverage is usually combined with a strategy of formalizing employment, thereby addressing broader decent work deficits. For those with limited contributory capacity, additional measures may be needed to mobilize additional resources from the state budget or other sources, such as measures to subsidize contributions at least temporarily. Extending social protection coverage through non-contributory benefits to those previously uncovered helps ensure at least a basic level of income security and access to essential health services for all . This can be achieved either through universal benefits provided to broad sections of the population (such as universal child benefits, old-age pensions or a national health service), or through targeted benefits for people living in poverty. For targeted benefit plans, extending coverage generally requires relaxing eligibility criteria.

When designed and implemented in coherence with relevant sectors, social protection is an essential platform for achieving additional results such as food and nutrition security, economic inclusion, sustainable management of natural resources, elimination of child labour, empowerment of women, employment and resilience of young people, as indicated in other groups of solutions (courses of action 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). Specifically, social protection is essential to support decent incomes, fair prices and fair wages.

To promote decent incomes, fair prices and fair wages, this solutions cluster promotes additional measures, essentially the establishment of sustainable price/income mechanisms or the increase in sales under fair commercial conditions, which can help improve the distribution of added value along supply chains. . These measures include agreements between actors at the local/national/international level; government initiatives or state-guaranteed agreements (see the case of coffee and Costa Rica); and trade agreements between countries (market access for smallholder farmers, standards, quality, prices, etc.). Revenue mechanisms include specific support for the diversification of funding sources, actions on agricultural input prices and payments for environmental services – see EU Common Agricultural Policy, Costa Rica’s experiences with the Fund National Forest Fund (Fonafifo), etc. small producers to be strengthened and their capacities strengthened. Through stronger producer organizations, smallholders and agripreneurs can engage in collective marketing, achieve economies of scale, learn successful farming techniques and skills, be effective business partners, share risk and improve their bargaining power. This will increase farm gate prices and help increase access to fair markets, including through public procurement measures. Public investments combined with the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices such as agroecology can also help increase agricultural yields, income resilience and risk management mechanisms. Combined with social protection measures, a cost-effective approach is school-based agricultural education – a youth-centred and gender-inclusive system to prepare future farmers while disseminating improved agricultural practices and technologies to current farmers, through the through local schools. Finally, this cluster of solutions aims to fix wider structural constraints of living income and wages, ensuring access to public services (education, health and social protection), finance, land and markets. (for inputs, output and capital) to break the vicious intergenerational cycle of poverty and farmers/fishermen’s and workers’ vulnerabilities to price volatility (climate change, supply chain fragmentation, market imperfections and information asymmetry, informality and general inability of farmers’ organizations to pool resources and bargain collectively). A combination of these mechanisms, adapted to the particularities of each product and each region, will improve the incomes and wages of small producers and agricultural workers. This Solutions Cluster will also achieve its goals by leveraging broader and deeper private sector engagement and action to bring the necessary involvement, commitments, ideas, experience and resources (IDH roadmap and Living Income Community of Practice), which are key to re-shaping social protection and labor policies to achieve multiple outcomes, strengthening human rights in the private sector (with a focus on land tenure and collective bargaining rights), facilitating access to markets and finance, and rebalancing bargaining power.

At the governmental level, integrated policies to achieve these different multiple objectives, in particular by linking social protection and labor to agricultural measures, do not happen naturally and must be promoted by design. To achieve this objective, an adjusted political architecture is needed, the establishment of coordination and financing mechanisms, the development of human capacities and operational mechanisms that can facilitate synergies and help manage trade-offs (design, implementation procedures, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). Similarly and at the workplace level, combining the extension of social protection with the provision of a systemic framework, tools and technical support can further help to start or improve workplace nutrition programs, such as the one promoted by the Workforce Nutrition Alliance – which can include not only nutritious and safe food at work, but also nutrition education campaigns informing workers of the importance of healthy eating and increasing self-consumption of the nutritious food they produce, as well as protecting the rights of working women to adequate food. and breastfeed their young children properly.

Joel C. Hicks