Why Seas of Change?

The coming decades require an unprecedented change in global agriculture and food systems to assure food security. Agriculture offers the best opportunity for the estimated 2 billion people living in smallholder households to work and trade their way out of poverty. Significant impact on poverty and food security requires change at scale, both scaling up successful approaches and implementing new approaches with scale built-in to the initial design.

Initial research plus conversations with several hundred leading business and development practitioners points to many inclusive business initiatives. Yet few are having an impact at scale, and there is a marked lack of learning and synthesis across these initiatives.

Seas of Change is a long-term applied research, innovation and exchange program that helps businesses, governments and NGOs tackle operational challenges and share innovative practices. The program focuses on the question of “what works when scaling inclusive agri-food markets?”.

The overall aim of the program is to help drive an inclusive approach to agricultural development that can draw more small-scale producers into long term commercially viable markets, create new and fair employment opportunities in the sector and stimulate small and medium enterprise.

To make relevant knowledge more applicable in commercial relationship that lead to greater inclusivity, Seas of Change works with engaged practitioners both in the private and public sectors. We work with this global community to:

  • Identify and understand innovative practices and trends
  • Synthesize relevant findings and communicate the results in state of the art reviews
  • Formulate evidence-based methods that can be adapted and applied by businesses in different contexts
  • Rigorously assess impact

The Seas of Change program supports the application of these evidence-based methods by:

  • Reaching deep: supporting committed, senior practitioners to develop more effective approaches
  • Reaching in: supporting more extensive commitment and activity within practitioners’ own organizations
  • Reaching out: supporting advocacy and advice to wider industry and multilateral groups


Current priority research and capacity building themes identified by practitioners are:

The Centre for Development Innovation of Wageningen UR (CDI) and the Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) are stewarding the program. It complements and will be embedded within a wide range of inclusive investment programs to enable cross-institutional and cross-program learning and exchange.