EU private agrifood standards in African high-value crops: pesticide use and farm-level productivity
In parallel with changes in official standards, supermarket chains in Europe have developed prescriptive, production-oriented standards, e.g. the European Union Retailers Produce Working Group for Good Agricultural Practices (GlobalGAP), and are asking their suppliers for produce to be certified according to food-safety and quality standards. There are concerns that the proliferation and enhanced stringency of standards that are imposed by high-income countries can negatively affect the competitiveness of producers in developing countries and impede actors from entering or even remaining in high-value food markets. Yet, in some cases, others argue that such standards can play a positive role, providing the catalyst and incentives for the modernization of export supply and regulatory systems and the adoption of safer and more sustainable production practices. This article provides an empirical analysis of EU private food-safety standards impact on pesticide use and farm-level productivity among smallholder export vegetable producers in Kenya. We apply an extended three-stage damage control production framework that accounts for multiple endogeneity problems to farm-level data collected from a random cross-section sample of 439 small-scale vegetable producers. Estimation results show that export producers complying with private standards significantly use less toxic pesticides; however there is no significant difference on the total quantity of pesticides used. Contrary to findings elsewhere, the econometric evidences here show that export vegetable farmers in Kenya use pesticide below the economic optimum. The third stage structural revenue model results demonstrate a positive and significant impact of standards adoption on revenue of vegetable production. While food safety and quality standards can be a barrier for resource poor smallholders to maintain their position in the lucrative export markets, they can also induce positive changes in production systems of small-scale farmers who adopt it as shown by the results presented. Generally this article partly supports the notion that adoption of emerging food-safety standards can serve as a catalyst in transforming the production systems of developing countries towards safer and more sustainable production.
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