Taking the environment seriously in production network research, policy and practice: Insights from Kenyan horticulture

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development

Abstract

This proposed research maximises the academic and non-academic impact of PhD research on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of Kenyan horticultural farmers participation in production networks. Fresh fruits and vegetables is one of Kenya's foremost foreign exchange earners, and over 12 million farmers depend on the sector for their livelihoods. Kenyan farmers face a very challenging environment, needing to simultaneously address the effects of changing trade patterns and environmental change. Much horticultural trade occurs through value chains, which are a series of linkages from the initial stages of production or farms, through processing and intermediaries and ultimately to retailers and consumers. While Kenyan farmers can find particularly lucrative opportunities through exporting to European and other developed country markets, they need to comply with stringent private standards with escalating environmental requirements which are mandated by global (or Northern) supermarkets. At the same time, regional supermarkets within East Africa are expanding and have their own standards requirements, including with environmental dimensions. Standards can threaten farmer livelihoods, while climate variability and extremes tend to further marginalize farmers' from selling into global and regional markets. The research addresses the socio-economic-environmental implications on how farmers participating in different value chains struggle with different environmental pressures.
The fellowship will build on PhD research involving a rigorous, mixed-method approach, including 106 key informant interviews, six focus group discussions and a survey of 579 farmers across four counties in Kenya (Murang'a, Machakos, Nyandarua, Meru) where snow peas, garden peas, avocados and mangoes are produced. It demonstrates that farmers' ability to environmentally upgrade, i.e. use greener products and processes in farming and adapting to climate change, varies immensely between farmers exporting to Europe compared to those selling regionally.
A central aspect of the programme of activities during the fellowship will be three articles for high impact journals on how farmers are embedded in different production networks, how they can upgrade and on regional entrepreneurial farmers. A research visit to Kenya will provide an essential opportunity to maximise the non-academic impact in relation to Kenyan horticultural communities and policymakers. It will also enable new pilot research on an emerging challenge within the Kenyan horticultural sector - Agtech and Foodtech as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution. This pilot research will provide initial insight into how new digital technologies may restructure horticultural value chains, setting a basis for future research projects. In addition to engagement events with sustainability standards' stakeholders in Europe, I will make a visit to Copenhagen Business School to collaborate with a leading researcher on the environment and production networks.
The fellowship will have a strong knowledge exchange component, focused on two key audiences - a sustainability standards stakeholders in Brussels, Geneva and London; and Kenyan horticultural policymakers and communities. A series of stakeholder meetings, workshops and policy notes will be conducted to exchange the research results with these groups. My findings will thus be used to shape legislation in Kenya on standards and contribute to creating resilient livelihoods for farmers. The fellowship provides an opportunity to make a significant contribution to emerging research on environment and production networks within academia, and to provide an evidence base to inform decision making in policy and practice. In sum, this fellowship is an excellent stepping stone to disseminating my research, building new networks and partnerships and learning new communication skills to be a successful researcher.

Publications

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Description This award enables me :
- to publish and influence policymakers with regard to my PhD on the environmental, economic and social dimensions of Kenyan horticultural farmers participation in production networks
- perform a scoping study on AgriTech in Kenya, wherein I uncovered their disruptive potential for farmers

In relation to the former, Fresh fruits and vegetables is one of Kenya's foremost foreign exchange earners, and over 12 million farmers depend on the sector for their livelihoods. Kenyan farmers face a very challenging environment, needing to simultaneously address the effects of changing trade patterns and environmental change. While Kenyan farmers can find particularly lucrative opportunities through exporting to European and other developed country markets, they need to comply with stringent private standards with escalating environmental requirements. At the same time, regional supermarkets within East Africa are expanding and have their own standards requirements, including with environmental dimensions. Standards can threaten farmer livelihoods, while climate variability and extremes tend to further marginalize farmers' from selling into global and regional markets. Overall, the meetings I have conducted in Kenya with the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) and other key players; the keynote address at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and ad-hoc expert meeting panel member at UNCTAD/UNFSS have clearly been important avenues through which I have been able to influence policy to consider the environment more deeply when designing and framing standards. Furthermore, my PhD research enabled me to work with leading researchers in the area- Prof Stefano Ponte and Valentina DeMarchi, together we have produced 2 journal articles which are currently under review in Economic Geography and RIPE

On the latter, I have been able to conduct a scoping visit to Kenya, interviewing over 100 stakeholders ( farmers, government, farming apps, private firms, retailers, donors, NGOs, universities etc) as well as perform a survey on farmers who are part of a platform ( i.e. use farming apps) compared to those who do not. The aim here was to understand the extent to which value chains are re-organized due to these new apps, how it affects the capabilities of farmers and if it provides more secure livelihoods. The results suggest that developing an app is a complicated process and they are expensive to maintain thus many apps fail. Additionally, young entrepreneurs who run these apps often have low management capability and therefore do not create sustainable business models that facilitate apps to continue to grow. At the other end of the value chain, farmers who use apps seem to have mixed economic, social and environmental impacts. For instance, while there are improvements in crop yields and labour productivity, there still exist low levels of trust in apps and persistent marginalization of women from participation in apps (compounding the gender divide). Therefore, apps are not necessarily creating positive forms of disruptions in value chains.

My work was also able to influence private sector, as I was invited to Syngenta to present the results of my research in Nov 2019, to the entire sustainability and innovations team. We have formed an advisory group which we hope can better inform some of Syngenta's societal impacts.
Exploitation Route At the outset, this funding has enabled considerable knowledge exchange and engagement activities with policymakers, who are critical to materializing my research on the ground. As I mentioned in the section on engagement activities and other outputs, this research has facilitated changes in decision making and led to creating new networks and an epistemic community on people doing research in the area of environmental and value chains.

This can help others, delve deeper into understanding the complex implications of environmental standards; as well as understanding the conditions under which AgriTech in value chains can be successful. There are two more papers I am currently preparing, on Spillover effects of platforms in agricultural value chains, which is being sent as part of a regional studies special issue; and changing governance structures in AgriTech value chains, which is currently in preparation. Both to be sent out later this year, using data collected during my ESRC PDF.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Retail

 
Description This has been discussed in detail within the section of other outputs and engagement activities. In brief: - UNCTAD and UNFSS: my research led to the creation of a new toolkit used to measure willingness to adopt and continue to use sustainability standards. The reports in relation to the toolkit will be released later this year along with pilot studies - ODI Carbon certifications event: was the keynote speaker at the event drawing on research from the PhD and ESRC PDF. This has led to the writing of an edited short book which will be used as background research for ODI's position for Glasgow 2020 UNFCCC event. - WTO and EIF ( Enhanced Integrated Framework): Published a report on AgriTech disruptors in East Africa, drawing on fieldwork from ESRC PDF and ODI research. The report was well received and published on the EIF website. Furthermore, presented this report at the WTO Public Forum, where this received considerable positive feedback and many new connections were formed with practioners and policymakers. - Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), Ministry of Agriculture in Kenya: influenced the decision making on local food standards ( pathway to public service delivery and quality of life) through PhD research -UNU-WIDER: presented research on AgriTech in Kenya. Created new research connections. -World Bank, World Development Report: cited in the World Development report 2020 and co-authored systematic review on agriculture and apparel value chains for the World Bank. This helped develop critical policy insights that have been considered by the World Bank as issues that need further research and investment - Syngenta: invited speaker at one of the World's largest private sector agricultural companies, and part of an advisory group on sustainable agriculture
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in UNCTAD policy report on sustainability standards in value chains
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact - this report is one of the first pilot studies using the UNFSS toolkit that was developed using the Krauss and Krishnan ( 2016) paper - this toolkit has been modified with inputs from me and new pilots will be undertaken in these areas - the learnings from the previous pilot will enable improving the effectiveness of sustainability standards for farmers
URL https://unctad.org/meetings/en/SessionalDocuments/UNCTAD_Assessment_VSS_VCO_Philippines.pdf
 
Description Citation in World Development Report 2020 of the World Bank
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2020
 
Description Invited Visiting Research Fellow at Copenhagen Business School and University of Padova (Department of Economics and Management) 
Organisation Copenhagen Business School
Country Denmark 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - We co-authored 2 journal articles together that are currently under review in Economic Geography and Review of International Political Economy - I am lead author on both these articles, as these are directly linked to my PhD research - We also organized a workshop at Copenhagen Business School to bring together researchers from across South Africa, Europe, and East Africa working on issues related to environmental upgrading in value chains. - the aim is to create an epistemic community on this research agenda.
Collaborator Contribution - Stefano Ponte, at the Copenhagen Business School, is a renown professor working in the area of value chains. He has been instrumental in mentoring me and providing me with critical feedback through the ESRC project - Valentina De Marchi is an assistant professor at the University of Padova, her work is directly linked to my PhD research and is a valuable contact for my future growth Both authors have supported co-authoring the two papers
Impact Krishnan, A, DeMarhci, V and Ponte S (under review) 'Reconceptualizing environment upgrading in global value chains', Economic Geography Krishnan, A, DeMarhci, V and Ponte S (submission June 2020) 'Theorizing the links between economic, social and environmental upgrading in value chains, RIPE This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration across management and economic geography
Start Year 2019
 
Description Invited Visiting Research Fellow at Copenhagen Business School and University of Padova (Department of Economics and Management) 
Organisation University of Padova
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution - We co-authored 2 journal articles together that are currently under review in Economic Geography and Review of International Political Economy - I am lead author on both these articles, as these are directly linked to my PhD research - We also organized a workshop at Copenhagen Business School to bring together researchers from across South Africa, Europe, and East Africa working on issues related to environmental upgrading in value chains. - the aim is to create an epistemic community on this research agenda.
Collaborator Contribution - Stefano Ponte, at the Copenhagen Business School, is a renown professor working in the area of value chains. He has been instrumental in mentoring me and providing me with critical feedback through the ESRC project - Valentina De Marchi is an assistant professor at the University of Padova, her work is directly linked to my PhD research and is a valuable contact for my future growth Both authors have supported co-authoring the two papers
Impact Krishnan, A, DeMarhci, V and Ponte S (under review) 'Reconceptualizing environment upgrading in global value chains', Economic Geography Krishnan, A, DeMarhci, V and Ponte S (submission June 2020) 'Theorizing the links between economic, social and environmental upgrading in value chains, RIPE This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration across management and economic geography
Start Year 2019
 
Description Researcher with CCRED (Competition Regulation and Economic Development) 
Organisation University of Johannesburg
Country South Africa 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working with CCRED to support the Department for International Trade in South Africa on digitalisation of food and implications on trade and enterprises.
Collaborator Contribution Connecting with South Africa companies and partners Brainstorming research ideas together on the future of digitalisation in South Africa
Impact Newspaper reports: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-05-24-combating-covid-19-the-promise-of-foodtech-in-sa/
Start Year 2020
 
Description Editorial in Business Daily Africa, Ways technology can boost food security, rev up jobs in Kenya 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Editorial in Business Daily Africa, Ways technology can boost food security, rev up jobs in Kenya'- sparked debate with the government of Kenya and business associations. Further research will be conducted in this space
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/datahub/Ways-technology-can-boost-food-security/3815418-5557664-...
 
Description Editorial in Daily Nation Kenya, 'Seven ways technology can ensure food security': 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Editorial in Daily Nation Kenya, 'Seven ways technology can ensure food security'- sparked debate with the government of Kenya and business associations. Further research will be conducted in this space
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.nation.co.ke/oped/opinion/Seven-ways-technology-can-ensure-food-security/440808-5562076-...
 
Description Expert group meeting with Horticultural Crops Directorate in Kenya on the environment and value chains 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact - I presented key policy findings of my PhD research work, with an aim to alter the current food standards ( KS 1758) in Kenya, to include more aspects related to the environment. My research showed the need to consider the long-term impacts of environmental damage, and how certain types of environmental practices have more positive implications than others. I packaged this into a 10-point policy outlook which was presented to the HCD, Export Promotion Council of Kenya, DFID and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD). Along with civil society - FPEAK, Kenya Farmers federation and Kenyan farmer groups .
- After the presentation, a closed roundtable discussion on the role of standards in value chains, where there needed to be new clauses added, and which parts could be removed
- all comments were taken on board and a new version of the standard is being drawn up to include some of the suggestions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited Speaker at Syngenta (Private Sector) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited as the key speaker for Syngenta's (one of the world's largest agricultural companies) monthly talk series. I presented my work to the sustainability and product innovation team at the Bracknell office in Syngenta. I was invited by product innovation specialist Dr. Phil Wege, after listening to my presentation on AgriTech at the University of Manchester. This was data collected during my ESRC PDF.
My topic of presentation was- AgriTech divide Vs dividends: understanding trust, adoption behaviour and emerging new value in digitalized value chains
This is an important area For Syngenta as many of their product innovations have issues with the rate of adoption and use. My research helped merge technocratic approaches with economic geography to provide a nuanced analysis for Kenyan farmers.
This led to the formation of an advisory group, of which I am part, that aims to discuss enhancing Syngenta's efforts to attaining SDG 2 and SDG 5, 12, 13 and 17.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Keynote at Overseas Development Institute closed meeting on carbon certifications and implications on middle-low income countries 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact - With support from Simon Maxwell (Ex-ODI MD) and Dirk Willem Te Velde (Principal Research Fellow of the International Economic Development Group) I organized an event on carbon certification as a route to reducing carbon footprints and implications for middle-low income countries.
- Speakers from private sector ( M&S), environment consulting firms ( e.g. Carbon Trust, Carbon Smart), NGOs ( e.g. Climate works, the CCC); associations ( e.g. BRC), and government ( BEIS, DFID) also discussed a range of topics on the day
- this was organized in Sept 2019
- this led to the development of an edited short book, co-authored with Simon Maxwell. I have co-authored the introduction with Simon Maxwell and have written a separate chapter in the book on an overview of sustainability standards. We have another 15 chapters from other key participants. The book is currently being edited and will be online in April 2020.
- This book will be used by ODI as a background note to COP 26 to be held in November 2020 in Glasgow
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://blog.gdi.manchester.ac.uk/climate-action-why-developed-countries-should-track-imported-emissi...
 
Description Op-ed in Daily Maverick, South Africa, 'Combating COVID-19: the promise of foodtech in South Africa' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Op-ed in Daily Maverick, South Africa, 'Combating COVID-19: the promise of foodtech in South Africa', Written with Reena Das Nair, University of Johannesburg- has led to considerable discussion on the policy implications of foodtech expansion with micro and small enterprises and the Department of trade and finance in South Africa.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-05-24-combating-covid-19-the-promise-of-foodtech-in...
 
Description Presented at UNCTAD Ad-hoc Expert meeting on sustainability standards in value chains 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact -this was part of the United Nations Framework on sustainability standards ( UNFSS), new toolkit on measuring impacts of sustainability standards. - This toolkit was inspired by my previous publication: Krauss, J. & Krishnan, A.(2016). Global Decisions and Local Realities: Priorities and Producers' Upgrading Opportunities in Agricultural Global Production Networks (UNFSS Discussion Paper No. 7). Geneva.
- the aim was to create a willingness to adopt and continue to use measure for sustainability standards and pilot the project in Vanuatu, Laos and Philippines. The piloting will begin in August this year.
- I have helped create the toolkit and support UNFSS through the process. This toolkit will be made available in April/May 2020.
- the toolkit will be used across agricultural sectors by the UNFSS to measure future impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presented at UNU-WIDER Conference on economic transformation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact - this led to creation of new collaborations at UNU-WIDER on the topic of AgriTech in value chains. This was the first presentation from the new pilot research data collected with the support of ESRC PDF funds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.wider.unu.edu/programme/conference-programme-transforming-economies-better-jobs
 
Description Presented at a panel at the WTO Public forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact - Invited to participate in a WTO session with ODI, EIF and Trade Mark East Africa - called Kicking away the ladder or flying geese: Entering a new era of digital servification in the EAC This drew on my research agenda on Agritech in value chains. I presented some of my own data gathered through ESRC fieldwork and complemented it with studies done by the ODI
- a brief of the presentation is available here https://dig.watch/resources/kicking-away-ladder-or -flying-geese-entering-new-era-digital-servificati on-eac -The session was a big success with many new connections developed, this also led to an invitation to speak at the East Africa Business Council event in Arusha
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://dig.watch/resources/kicking-away-ladder-or-flying-geese-entering-new-era-digital-servificati...