Impacts of the GlobalGap standard: A case study of the qualitative impacts of a private regulation machanism on Kenyan exporters and smallholders

Anne Lind & Mads Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The GlobalGAP standard is a private food safety standard developed to regulate production processes at farm level. The main aim of the standard is to ensure that all agricultural products by certified producers are handled in a manner safe for the end consumers, the producers and the environment. Since its emergence in 1997 the GlobalGAP standard has gained momentum and still more European retailers expect their suppliers to adhere to its requirements. The GlobalGAP standard is thus influencing the premises of trade in the global horticultural value chain. In this dissertation we explore how the GlobalGAP has emerged and is incorporated as a regulation mechanism and how it affects exporters and smallholders in Kenya. The GlobalGAP standard is developed by the agri-food industry itself as a regulation mechanism to supplement existing national and international legislation. In this dissertation we analyse the context of the emergence of the GlobalGAP. By applying the theoretical global governance approach, we argue that the GlobalGAP standard has emerged in order to fill out a vacuum caused by the lack of transnational legislative bodies to govern the globalised trade of today. The GlobalGAP transcends EU regulations in order for the European retailers to meet the dynamic preferences of modern consumers. Additionally, we use the analytics of government approach to show how the GlobalGAP standard works as an advanced means of public regulation that utilises the existing driving force of the private agri-food industry to achieve the goal of providing safe and high quality foods for the consumers. The GlobalGAP standard affects the terms on which the trade between the different actors in the horticultural value chain takes place. Two case studies conducted in Kenya constitute the main empirical foundation for the dissertation’s exploration of these effects. The case studies consist of observations, interviews and document research with respectively a large Kenyan exporter and a small Kenyan exporter and their affiliated smallholder groups. The analysis shows how the incorporation of the GlobalGAP standard in the global horticultural value chain facilitates an easier coordination and communication between the European buyers and the Kenyan exporters. The GlobalGAP provides a language and a clearly defined set of requirements, which constitute a shared frame of reference for the two parties. This point is especially relevant in the case of the small exporter, who through the GlobalGAP certification is able to demonstrate the quality of its produce and thus attract new European buyers. The large exporter on the other hand has less of a benefit from signalling the GlobalGAP certification of its produce, as it already has tight connections to the UK market. While providing some benefit to the Kenyan exporters, we argue that the European buyers’ demand for GlobalGAP certified products leaves the exporters with an increased amount of risk: It becomes the responsibility of the exporters to make sure that the Kenyan smallholders of whom they buy some of their produce comply with the GlobalGAP standard. This entails investments and ongoing support from the exporters to the smallholders, while the European buyers experience an easier trade and no increased risk or workload. This consequently cements the buyer-driven dominance of the global horticultural value chain. For the smallholders the implementation of the GlobalGAP standard has comprehensive consequences. This dissertation shows how compliance to the GlobalGAP standard causes a change of not only the smallholders’ farming practices, but of the smallholders’ mindsets as well. The smallholders internalise the values and practices of the GlobalGAP and make them their own, and they adopt the group structure enforced by the GlobalGAP in the way their local communities are organised. Additionally, the exporters’ investments in the smallholders’ GlobalGAP certification place the smallholders in a subordinated position to the exporters disabling the smallholders of freely choosing to whom they want to sell. With its qualitative and explorative point of departure this dissertation provides new knowledge about the GlobalGAP as a regulation mechanism and its consequences throughout the horticultural value chain. With this contribution the dissertation constitutes the basis for further research on the consequences of the implementation of the GlobalGAP standard in developing countries and for discussions about the role of private regulation mechanisms in defining the future of the horticultural sector in developing countries.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2011
Number of pages147