Improving the sustainability of the wheat supply chain through multi-stakeholder engagement

Lijuan Deng, Hongyan Zhang, Chong Wang, Wenqi Ma, Annah Zhu, Fusuo Zhang, Xiaoqiang Jiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Feeding the world's growing population, while producing economic benefits with limited environmental effects, is a major challenge faced by global food supply chains. This is especially apparent when the production stage is predominated by smallholders as they each face varying economic and environmental demands, making it difficult to mobilize them on the ground. This study investigated how the environmental and economic sustainability of wheat supply chains could be improved by analyzing the performance of all stakeholders, especially the smallholders. Results showed that 77% of GHG emissions came from wheat cultivation, and less than 8% of the total economic benefits were recouped during this stage. In contrast, smallholders in the Science and Technology Backyards, reduced their GHG emissions by 16.4% and improved their economic benefits by 1.3- fold. Furthermore, a 2.6-fold increase in profit (1808 USD) with GHG emission reduction was achieved simultaneously by integrating all individual stages as a whole. This study found that the sustainability of the wheat supply chain was mainly affected by wheat cultivation. It also demonstrated the potential efficacy of empowering smallholders and integration of all individual stages as a whole to improve the sustainability of food supply chains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128837
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021


  • Agricultural sustainability
  • Food supply chain
  • Smallholder production
  • Wheat


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