Conventionalization of the organic sesame network from Burkina Faso: shrinking into mainstream

Abstract

This research examines the structure and development of the organic sesame network from Burkina Faso to explain the declining trend in organic sesame export. The paper addresses particularly the question whether the organic sesame network is structurally (re)shaped as a conventional mainstream market or whether it still presents a real alternative to conventional sesame production and trade. It is found that over the last decade organic sesame is increasingly incorporated into mainstream market channels. But contrary to the well-known case of conventionalization in California, where organic agriculture grew into mainstream agro-food arrangements, this study illustrates a case where organic sesame agriculture shrank into mainstream agro-food arrangements. The weak coherence between the production and marketing nodes in the organic sesame chain resulted in failures to vertically mediate information, balance power relationships in and across sesame chains, build trust, and limit price volatility and speculation, resulting in a shrinking organic sesame market. For developing a viable alternative to conventional sesame trading, relations between production and trading nodes in the organic networks need to be strengthened through public–private partnerships, combined with other public and legal reinforcement.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    DGPER: ‘Direction Générale de la Promotion de l‘Economie Rurale’ is the public office in charge of the rural economy.

  2. 2.

    PROFIL: ‘Projet d’Appui aux Filières Agricoles’ is a government project promoting agro commodity chains.

Abbreviations

ADDB:

Development Association of the Department Bilenga

ADDESP:

Departmental Association for Economic and Social Development of Piela

ARFA:

Association pour la Recherche et la Formation en Agro-écologie

AICB:

Association Interprofessionnelle du Coton du Burkina

APB:

Association Piela-Bilenga

CAMC-O:

Centre of Arbitrage, Mediation and Conciliation in Ouagadougou

EU:

European Union

INERA:

Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles

PPP:

Public-private partnership

TROPEX:

Tropical Products Export

UNPCB:

National Union of Cotton Growers in Burkina Faso

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Netherlands Fellowship Programme. We are thankful to Frederic Bationo, Guiella Narh Gifty, and Mathieu Sawadogo for their collaboration and Paulin Bazié for field assistance. We are also very grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.

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Correspondence to Laurent C. Glin.

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Glin, L.C., Mol, A.P.J. & Oosterveer, P. Conventionalization of the organic sesame network from Burkina Faso: shrinking into mainstream. Agric Hum Values 30, 539–554 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-013-9435-9

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Keywords

  • Organic sesame
  • Conventionalization
  • Alternative food economy
  • Governance
  • Trust
  • Burkina Faso