Sustainability Literacy for Farmers
The Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business has pioneered the area of inquiry and practice entitled subsistence marketplaces over the last two decades. This initiative takes a bottom-up approach to the study of the intersection of low-income individuals and marketplaces – developing unique synergies between research, teaching, and social initiatives with a primary purpose of empowering entrepreneurs to succeed in these most difficult arenas. ADMI has been in close partnership with the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative since the institute’s creation in 2011. Over the past 10 years, ADMI has funded study abroad opportunities for University of Illinois students and new Sustainable Marketplaces programs.
Between November 2019 and March 2020, the Subsistence Marketplaces team designed, piloted, and delivered the program to groups of 15 to 25 participants in the four target countries:
- 100 farmers in a rural area of Honduras
- 158 participants in a refugee settlement in Nakivale, Uganda
- 385 farmers in tribal communities in Tanzania
- 330 participants in rural/semirural village clusters near Chennai, India
The sustainability literacy programs for each country are designed based on “bottom-up understanding,” which Viswanathan uses to describe the process of getting information and gauging knowledge from the farmers while the program is being designed. In this way, the marketplace literacy program meets the farmers where they are and enhances their understanding. The program focused on the impact of environmental challenges on agriculture, including postharvest loss, and enhancing their capacity to respond to challenges through marketplace solutions.
The project also resulted in a manual on sustainability literacy for farmers.