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IFAD RESEARCH SERIES 11 - Food safety, trade, standards and the integration of smallholders into value chains: a review of the literature


  • Humphrey, J.


Current transformations in food consumption and food trade have allowed greatly increased food exports from developing countries and also shifted the composition of exports towards high-value foods that offer better opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods. Transformations in the domestic markets of developing countries are also changing the composition of food consumed and opening up opportunities there. Nevertheless, food safety crises and changing food safety requirements are widely considered as potentially limiting the opportunities for smallholder farmers to enter these expanding markets. In particular, a shift in food safety philosophy towards the introduction of risk-based preventive controls on farms appears to pose a threat to smallholder farmers by creating new requirements for knowledge about food safety, additional investment in equipment and food safety systems, and more intensive linkages between producers and the buyers of their products. Food safety challenges vary considerably across markets and across products. Markets – developed country export markets, regional markets and developing country domestic markets – are changing rapidly and present different opportunities and threats from food safety risks and also the controls introduced to contain them. The food products for which food safety challenges are most prominent are cereals and nuts susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, and high-value fresh products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy. The use of risk-based preventive controls to address challenges is being extended not only through the extension of border controls, but also through private standards and through domestic controls in developing countries and food importing countries. Increasingly, the pressure is for the food safety systems of exporting countries to demonstrate their capacities to offer levels of food safety protection equivalent to those achieved in destination markets. Responding to these food safety challenges involves developing country governments making strategic choices about establishing a range of domestic standards and facilitating the upgrading of capabilities by smallholder farmers and their inclusion into a range of different markets. With respect to enabling smallholder farmers to gain knowledge about new food safety requirements, invest in food safety systems and increase the confidence of buyers, the well-established mechanisms for supporting smallholder inclusion in markets can make a substantial contribution to limiting exclusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Humphrey, J., 2017. "IFAD RESEARCH SERIES 11 - Food safety, trade, standards and the integration of smallholders into value chains: a review of the literature," IFAD Research Series 280049, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:unadrs:280049
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.280049

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    Cited by:

    1. Hoffmann, Vivian & Moser, Christine & Saak, Alexander, 2019. "Food safety in low and middle-income countries: The evidence through an economic lens," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.

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