Minimizing the exclusionary effects of standards. What works?


Start date: 1 November, 2010 End date: 30 June, 2015 Project type: Smaller projects: Postdoc Project code: 10-107DIIS Countries: Kenya Thematic areas: Agricultural production, Economic development and value chains, Lead institution: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Policy Brief: Policy Brief-1 Project coordinator: Lone Riisgaard Total grant: 2,362,417 DKK Project files:

Project summary

Private agricultural sustainability standards have been found to have exclusionary effects on Southern women and smallholders. Standards may deny marginalized actors market access or offer access only under poor working conditions. Standards initiatives now seek to make their standards more inclusive (e.g. via group certification procedures and participatory auditing). Donors, including DANIDA, are in different ways involved in attempts to mitigate the exclusionary effects of standards. This project focuses on these ‘inclusionary’ initiatives. The aim of this project is to determine what works and what does not. Effects will be analyzed in respect of interventions at three levels: 1) Standard setting: Studies of IFOAM and Rainforest Alliance will determine if new ‘inclusionary’ forms of standard making lead to measurable changes in standard content and decision making procedures. 2) Certification: The certification costs of Rainforest Alliance will be analysed. Certified tea estates in Kenya (with and without certified outgrowers) will be compared to assess the viability of having outgrowers certified via group certification. Additionally, the costs of using a local certification body (Africert) is compared to the costs of international certification agencies. 3) Auditing: Audits on flower farms in Kenya will be compared to assess if there are measurable effects of using participatory social auditing (PSA) as compared to ‘traditional’ social audits in relation to compliance issues identified and remediation adopted. This will determine whether PSAs capture less measurable compliance problems particularly in relation to women workers


Project Completion Report:
The project set out to examine initiatives by sustainability standard-setters to ensure that developing country actors (particularly smallholders and women) are not excluded.

Research on the cut flower industry in Kenya found that stabilization of the production system together with political and demand-side pressue amongst others from standards had led to improvements of a range of labour conditions.

Research was also undertaken with regards to multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs).Their legitimacy is based on balanced representation and participation of all categories of stakeholders. Nevertheless, MSIs often reinforce existing power imbalances by strengthening the domination of elites in terms of access to and use of resources like land and water while broadening the marginalization of small farmers.

Finally, Fairtrade and non Fairtrade certified smallholder tea production in Kenya was studied revealing that none of the differences found in relation to the conditions of on-farm wage labourers were related to certification status.

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