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

Listed author(s):
  • Pepijn Schreinemachers


  • Iven Schad
  • Prasnee Tipraqsa
  • Pakakrong Williams
  • Andreas Neef
  • Suthathip Riwthong
  • Walaya Sangchan
  • Christian Grovermann
Registered author(s):

    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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    Article provided by Springer & The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) 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
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-012-9378-6
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    1. 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;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 144(1), pages 83-106, April.
    2. Wilson, John S. & Otsuki, Tsunehiro, 2004. "To spray or not to spray: pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 131-146, April.
    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;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 28(3), pages 427-441, September.
    4. Laura DeLind & Philip Howard, 2008. "Safe at any scale? Food scares, food regulation, and scaled alternatives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 25(3), pages 301-317, September.
    5. 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.
    6. 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;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 28(3), pages 353-367, September.
    7. 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.
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