In business, overall direction to the enterprise is provided by strategic management. Strategic management is the process of specifying an organization's objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve these objectives, and allocating resources to implement the policies and plans to achieve the organization's objectives. It is the highest level of managerial activity.
Strategic management for agricultural product chains is useful for the process of self-optimization in order to enhance production quality. But, in practice, there is nearly no distinct “monadic” chain of agricultural products. Behind the farm gate the raw materials are mostly used for a lot of different end products leading to a kind of “product network”.
As a consequence, for each segment of a product chain management strategies were formulated for realization of interests of single stakeholders. The result of negotiations along the product chain including realizations of Good or Best Agricultural Practices decisively depends on the social responsibility of all stakeholders. Mutual co-operation leads to enhancing sustainability. For instance, trade should have the ability to rely on agricultural practices following their demands, farmers should have the ability to count with receiving the price it costs fulfilling these demands, and for the consumer it should be transparent how a product has been produced and traded. The consumer on the other hand should respect that good quality products cannot be produced sustainably for cheap prices. While a GAP/BAP approach guarantees transparency and traceability for on-farm production, internal business executive audits like diverse business ethics assessments exist checking the quality of trade and retailing agricultural products. We call the management best if the performance considers the demands of all segments along the product chain and acts in that sense “emphatic”.
With respect to strategic management of product chains of agricultural products the exchange points between segments of a product chain offer the possibility to document and to evaluate the quality and reliability of information transfer by independent institutions. Here, possibly we will find a basis for recommendations to stakeholders which direction they should choose to increase the product chain quality and to enhance the sustainability of the related product chain.
The author has been consultant of GTZ and is representative of the Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forestry, Julius-Kuehn-Institute, Braunschweig, Germany, for questions of Good Agricultural Practices. He is involved in the programme committee of the International symposium on "Best Practice of Disease, Pest and Weed Management", 2007.