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Integrating lean concepts in smallholder farming to catalyze sustainable agriculture for food security in Trinidad, WI

Roop, Ramgopaul; Weaver, Miles; Broatch, Ronald; St. Martin, Chaney


Ramgopaul Roop

Chaney St. Martin


Walter Leal Filho

Elena Popkova

Marina Kovaleva


The development for sustainable smallholder farming is not a transparent and replicable procedure because the agricultural sector focuses primarily on productivity with minimum attention on lean management as a sustainability strategy. Currently, the requirement of achieving a 70% increase in production often ignores the complementary factor of reducing wastage and loss to achieve sustainable food security and nutrition. This paper examines integrating lean management concepts in smallholder farming as a catalyst for sustainable agriculture, food, and nutrition security. Several sources indicate that approximately 500 million smallholder farms worldwide cultivate on under 2 ha farm size without adequate land tenure. These farms are primarily in difficult soil conditions and environmentally risk-prone areas, reducing their resilience to changes in weather conditions. Although smallholders comprise 84% of all farms with approximately 30% of global food production, the participants and their dependents constitute almost 75% of the underprivileged, hungry, and undernourished people worldwide. These conditions are exacerbated by smallholder farms experiencing more post-harvest loss due to inadequate market and access to cold storage facilities. Additionally, smallholders have limited adaptive capacity in coping with changing environments due to inadequate scientific knowledge, low income, small farm size, limited technical assistance, and marketing opportunities. Despite these challenges, smallholders are touted as potentially the backbone to implement the United Nations’ Goal #2 for Sustainable Development in achieving zero-hunger by at least 2030. This research presents Ro-Crops Agrotec, a 1.5-ha agroecology family farm in central Trinidad, as a case study with over 26 years of successfully integrating strategic lean management. The management of Ro-Crops demonstrates that sustainable agriculture and food security are achievable through strategic planning, farm management, and innovative waste removal without the measures becoming an obsession. While lean management is associated initially with auto manufacturing, the concept is equally essential in agriculture due to losses in production, post-harvest, and food processing. At the retailing and consumer stages, the annual global wastage consists of almost one-third of consumer food, estimated at approximately 1.3 billion tons. Lean management reduces waste, maximizes efficiency, and increases economic value due to productivity, quality, and flexibility as the primary performance indicators. The lean concepts help in effectively reducing wastage by developing standardised processes and continuously improving the operations.

Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 29, 2022
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 30, 2024
Publisher Springer
Pages 283-309
Series Title World Sustainability Series
Book Title Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security
ISBN 978-3-030-98616-2
Keywords Lean management; Food wastage; Smallholder farmers; Sustainable agriculture; Food security; Strategic planning; Farm management
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