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Agent-based simulation of social processes related to food and agricultural supply chains
The agent-based model captures the spatio-temporal institutional dynamics of the economy over the years at the level of a Dutch province. After 1945, Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands has been subject to an active program of economic development through the stimulation of pig husbandry. This has had far-reaching effects on its economy, landscape, and environment. The agents are households. The simulation is at institutional level, with typical stakeholder groups, lobbies, and political parties playing a role in determining policies that in turn determine economic, spatial and ecological outcomes. It allows to experiment with alternative scenarios based on two political dimensions: local versus global issues, and economic versus social responsibilitypriorities. The model shows very strong sensitivity to political context. It can serve as a reference model for other cases where “artificial institutional economics” is attempted.
The purpose of the simulation is to evaluate alternative interventions by a value chain development program, aiming to improve rural livelihood and food and nutrition security. In northern Ghana, where distrust between the partners can be a problem in the functioning of value chains, the program supports the incorporation of smallholder farmers in soy clusters or agriculture APEX organization (farmers’ co-operatives) with a fair business environment. The goal is to to include the smallholder farmers in a strong value chain and reduce distrust.
Trust between farmers and processors is a key factor in developing stable supply chains including “bottom of the pyramid”, small-scale farmers. This simulation studies a case with 10000 farmers.
Aroused public opinion has led to public debates on social responsibility issues in food supply chains. This model based op opinion dynamics and the linkages between involved actors simulates the public debate leading to the transitions.