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Can public GAP standards reduce agricultural pesticide use? The case of fruit and vegetable farming in northern Thailand


Author Info

  • Pepijn Schreinemachers


  • Iven Schad
  • Prasnee Tipraqsa
  • Pakakrong Williams
  • Andreas Neef
  • Suthathip Riwthong
  • Walaya Sangchan
  • Christian Grovermann
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    In response to the chronic overuse and misuse of pesticides in agriculture, governments in Southeast Asia have sought to improve food safety by introducing public standards of good agricultural practices (GAP). Using quantitative farm-level data from an intensive horticultural production system in northern Thailand, we test if fruit and vegetable producers who follow the public GAP standard use fewer and less hazardous pesticides than producers who do not adhere to the standard. The results show that this is not the case. By drawing on qualitative data from expert interviews and an action research project with local litchi (“lychee”) producers we explain the underlying reasons for the absence of significant differences. The qualitative evidence points at poor implementation of farm auditing related to a program expansion that was too rapid, at a lack of understanding among farmers about the logic of the control points in the standard, and at a lack of alternatives given to farmers to manage their pest problems. We argue that by focusing on the testing of farm produce for pesticide residues, the public GAP program is paying too much attention to the consequences rather than the root cause of the pesticide problem; it needs to balance this by making a greater effort to change on-farm practices. Copyright The Author(s) 2012

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 519-529

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:4:p:519-529

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    Keywords: Certification; Food safety; Food standards; Good agricultural practices; Pesticide contamination; Southeast Asia;


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    1. Doris Fuchs & Agni Kalfagianni & Tetty Havinga, 2011. "Actors in private food governance: the legitimacy of retail standards and multistakeholder initiatives with civil society participation," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 353-367, September.
    2. Spencer Henson & Steven Jaffee, 2008. "Understanding Developing Country Strategic Responses to the Enhancement of Food Safety Standards," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 548-568, 04.
    3. Anne Tallontire & Maggie Opondo & Valerie Nelson & Adrienne Martin, 2011. "Beyond the vertical? Using value chains and governance as a framework to analyse private standards initiatives in agri-food chains," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 427-441, September.
    4. Chunlai Chen & Jun Yang & Christopher Findlay, 2008. "Measuring the Effect of Food Safety Standards on China’s Agricultural Exports," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 83-106, April.
    5. Laura DeLind & Philip Howard, 2008. "Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 301-317, September.
    6. Julius J. Okello & Scott M. Swinton, 2010. "From Circle of Poison to Circle of Virtue: Pesticides, Export Standards and Kenya's Green Bean Farmers," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(2), pages 209-224.
    7. Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2002. "To spray or not to spray? - pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2805, The World Bank.
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