Food safety requirements in African green bean exports and their impact on small farmers

Many African countries have moved into the production of non-traditional agricultural products, in an effort to diversify their exports and increase foreign currency earnings. However, in order to access developed country markets and urban domestic markets, these products must meet food safety requirements, including protocols relating to pesticide residues, field and pack house operations, and traceability. Faced with stringent food safety requirements, companies that establish production centers in low-income countries might exclude poor farmers, thus negatively impacting the poor. We herein study this issue in the case of the green bean export sectors in three African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. In the short-term, stringent food safety standards have screened out smallholders in all these countries, excluding them from the green bean export chain. However, some institutional arrangements have helped support the smallholders who continue to function in the export-oriented green bean supply chains. In particular, public-private partnerships have played a key role in creating farm-to-fork linkages that can satisfy market demands for food safety while retaining smallholders in the supply chain. Furthermore, organized producer groups capable of monitoring their own food safety requirements through collective action have become attractive to buyers who are looking for ways to ensure traceability and reduce transaction costs.

Okello, Julius Juma
Narrod, Clare
Roy, Devesh
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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