Governance Implications of Private Standards Initiatives in Agri-Food Chains

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Natural Resources Institute


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


10 25 50
Description Focusing on fresh vegetables and cut flowers from Kenya, the project explored what private standards and initiatives mean for 'governance' or the exercise of power. It explored the power relations amongst different groups participating in or excluded from Private Standards Initiatives (PSIs) with a view to identifying which actors were most powerful and how roles were changing. The powerful role of retailers and exporters in PSIs has been highlighted, but also how new actors such as donors, NGOs (international and national), researchers and auditors have played a role in shaping these initiatives. We showed how smallholders and workers have been effectively excluded from the debates and how NGOs that seek to speak for smallholders and workers have also been constrained. The dominant narratives of retailers have shaped views of potential solutions, whilst local priorities and alternative narratives have been sidelined or remain unarticulated. Our fieldwork in Kenya demonstrated the limited ability of PSIs to instigate transformative change. There have been some improvements in how labour rights and good agricultural practices standards have been implemented and some changes to standards and audits, but transformational change has been absent.
Exploitation Route NGOs working on labour rights and farmer voice in agricultural supply chains have found the findings useful in enhancing their understanding of how supply chains work and thereby inform their campaigns
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink