Agriculture is one of the key drivers of economic development in Southeast Asia, a region home to around 100 million farmers . Their role in supporting food systems and rural livelihood puts smallholder farming in a strategic position to promote sustainable agricultural practices. For which, sustainability certifications often become the “gold standard” with their market mechanism approaches.

The key component of sustainable certifications is traceability . Through traceability, producers and consumers could ensure that the agricultural products they purchase come from sustainable and deforestation-free sources. In theory, traceability allows the identification of each stage of value chain through the chain of custody, requiring stringent administrative processes.

Despite contributing significantly to the agricultural production , however, smallholder farmers often could not access these sustainability certifications due to the lack of traceability. While considered efficient and trustworthy, traceability solutions may not work at the smallholder level.

Various factors influence the implementation of smallholder traceability. We identify at least three common challenges that prevent smallholder traceability and ways to navigate around these challenges.

With consumers being increasingly more conscious of what they purchase, demand for eco- and sustainable labelling from certification providers will constantly increase. Therefore, smallholder inclusion in traceability will create incremental changes towards achieving sustainable agricultural practices.