Institutional Innovations for Smallholder Compliance with International Food Safety Standards: Experiences from Kenya, Ethiopian and Zambian Green Bean Growers
Okello, Julius Juma
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Many African countries have moved into the production of non-traditional agricultural products to diversify their exports and increase foreign currency earnings. Accessing developed country markets requires meeting food safety standards brought about by several demand and supply side factors. Food retailers in the EU, the major destination market, have developed protocols relating to pesticide residue limits, field and packinghouse hygiene, and traceability. In this changing scenario where food safety requirements are getting increasingly stringent, there are worries that companies that establish production centers in LDCs might exclude smallholder farmers. In this paper, we study the cases of green beans production in Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia for export to high value European markets. Though the immediate effect of the imposition of stringent food safety standards has been to screen away smallholders, there has been continued participation of smallholders in some cases. This paper finds that emergence of new institutional arrangements have enabled the smallholders to maintain their participation in high value European markets. In particular, public-private partnerships have played a key role in helping smallholder farmers acquire training on and certification against European food safety standards. Collective action in form of producer organizations has enabled smallholders to jointly invest in costly facilities and take advantage of economies of scale to remain competitive. Producer organizations also allow for cheaper means for buyers to ensure traceability and are critical in reducing transaction costs of linking up with smallholders. Key words: international food safety standards, compliance, smallholder farmers, institutional arrangements, collective action, producer organizations, public-private partnerships.