Battlefields of ideas: changing narratives and power dynamics in private standards in global agricultural value chains
- 1.2k Downloads
The rise of private standards, including those involving multi-stakeholder processes, raises questions about whose interests are served and the kind of power that is exerted to maintain these interests. This paper critically examines the battle for ideas—the way competing factions assert their own narratives about value chain relations, the role of standards and related multi-stakeholder processes. Drawing on empirical research on the horticulture and floriculture value chains linking Kenya and the United Kingdom, the analysis explores the framing of sustainability issues, especially around labor issues and good agricultural practice, and the choice of response with respect to private standards and multi-stakeholder initiatives since the late 1990s. We identify four competing narratives currently in play: a dominant global sourcing narrative, a pragmatic development narrative, a broader development narrative and a narrative we term potentially transformative. This last narrative is currently emerging through the unpacking of narratives in relation to the framing of sustainability problems and solutions, and in terms of legislative, executive and judicial governance. The paper contributes to emerging understanding of power in value chains, moving beyond material power to a consideration of how ideational power is exerted and resisted.
KeywordsPrivate standards Multi-stakeholder initiatives Agriculture Governance Kenya Sustainability standards
Department for international development
Ethical trading initiative
Fairtrade labelling organisations international
Flower label program
Fresh produce exporters of Kenya
Good agricultural practice
Global social compliance program
Global value chain
Horticultural ethical business initiative
Kenya flower council
Milieu programma sierteelt
Mature systems of industrial relations
Participatory social auditing
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development (DFID), for the project Governance Implications of Private Standards Initiatives in Agri-Food Chains, Grant Ref: RES-167-25-0195. We also thank the two other core members of the project team, Maggie Opondo and Adrienne Martin, for their contributions throughout the project. We also acknowledge the funding of DFID for the accountable Grant: Assessing the Poverty Impact and Governance Implications of Sustainability Standards’ project granted to NRI.
- Africa Observer. 2010. http://www.africa-observer.info/index.html. Accessed 25 Feb 2010.
- Auret, D., and S. Barrientos. 2004. Participatory social auditing: A practical guide to developing a gender sensitive approach, working papers. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.Google Scholar
- Bain, C., E. Ransom, and M.R. Worosz. 2010. Constructing credibility: Using techno science to legitimate strategies in agri-food governance. Journal of Rural Social Sciences 25(3): 160–192.Google Scholar
- Boltanski, L., and L. Thévenot. 200.  On justification: Economies of worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Blowfield, M. 2003. Ethical supply chains in the cocoa, coffee and tea industries. Greener Management International 43: 15–24.Google Scholar
- Cheyns, E. 2011. Multi-stakeholder initiatives for sustainable agriculture: The limits of the ‘inclusiveness’ paradigm. In: Governing through standards: Origins, drivers, limitation, (eds), S. Ponte, P. Gibbon, P and J. Vestergaard, 210–235. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Aid, Christian. 1997. Change at the check-out? Supermarkets and ethnical business. London: Christian Aid.Google Scholar
- CLAC. 2013. Simbolo de Pequenos Productores. http://clac-comerciojusto.org/simbolo-pequenos-productores. Accessed 24 May 2013.
- Dankers, C. 2002. Environmental and social standards, certification and labelling for cash crops, Technical paper 2, FAO, Commodities and Trade. http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y5136e/y5136e00.htm#Contents. Accessed 8 Feb 2011.
- De Battisti, A., J. McGregor, and A. Graffham. 2009. Standard bearer’s horticultural exports and private standards in Africa. London: IIED.Google Scholar
- Ethical Trading Initiative. 2013. Our strategy. http://www.ethicaltrade.org/about-eti/our-strategy. Accessed 20 May 2013.
- EurepGAP. 2005. EurepGAP global report 2005. A Publication of EUREPGAP, c/o FoodPLUS, Cologne Germany.Google Scholar
- Fuchs, N., and U. Hoffmann. 2013. Commentary 1: Ensuring food security and environmental resilience: The need for supportive agricultural trade rules’ in UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate’. UNCTAD, Geneva.Google Scholar
- Gereffi, G. 1994. The organization of buyer-driven global commodity chains: How U.S. Retailers shape overseas production networks. In: Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism, eds. G. Gereffi and M. Korzeniewic, 95–122. Praeger.Google Scholar
- Gibbon, P., and S. Ponte. 2005. Trading down. Africa, value chains and the global economy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
- GlobalGAP. 2007. The grasp tools. Implementation guideline for farmers and auditors checklist. Bonn: GlobalGAP.Google Scholar
- Graffham, A., E. Karehu, and J. Macgregor. 2007. Impact of EurepGAP on small-scale vegetable growers in Kenya. Fresh insights 6, www.agrifoodstandards.org. Accessed 12 Feb 2008.
- Gregoratti, C., and D. Miller. 2009. (Re-)Instating decent work through mature systems of industrial relations: the case of river rich cambodia, regulating for decent work: Innovative labour regulation in a turbulent world, International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 8–10 July 2009. http://www.ilo.org/legacy/english/protection/travail/pdf/rdwpaper42b.pdf, Accessed 12 July 2012.
- Helmsing, A. H. J., and S. Vellema. 2011. Value chain governance and inclusive endogenous development, development policy review network phase II –report, http://www.search4dev.nl/document/208683. Accessed 21 April 2011.
- Haufler, V. 2001. A public role for the private sector: Industry self-regulation in a global economy. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
- Humphrey, J. 2008. Private standards, small farmers and donor policy: EUREPGAP in Kenya, IDS Working Paper 308, Brighton: IDS.Google Scholar
- Impactt. 2008. Getting smarter: Ethical trading in the downturn, Impactt Report 2008 http://www.impacttlimited.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/impact-report-2008_final-version_web_single-pages.pdf. Accessed 11 Feb 2011.
- Jaffee, S. 2005. Food safety and agricultural health standards: challenges and opportunities for developing country exports., poverty reduction and economic management trade unit and agriculture and rural development department, report No 31207, Washington: World Bank.Google Scholar
- Lawler, S. 2002. Narrative in Social Research. In Qualitative Research in Action, ed. T. May, 242–259. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Leach, M., I. Scoones, and A. Stirling. 2010. Dynamics Sustainabilities: Technology, Environment, Social Justice. UK: Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Local Resources Network. 2011. http://www.localresourcesnetwork.net/ Accessed 15 April 2011.
- Loconto, A., and L. Busch. 2010. Standards, techno-economic networks, and playing fields: Performing the global market economy. Review of International Political Economy 17(3): 507–536.Google Scholar
- Lukes, S. 2005. Power: A Radical View, 2nd ed. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Marks and Spencer. No date. Plan A. http://plana.marksandspencer.com/. Accessed 1 Dec 2012.
- May, V. 2012. What is narrative analysis? Methods@Manchester Realities, ESRC national centre for research methods and Morgan centre for the study of relationships and personal life, available at: www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/events/whatis/narrativeanalysis.pdf. Accessed 20 April 2012.
- Murphy, S. 2010. Changing perspectives: small-scale farmers, markets and globalization, HIVOS knowledge programme. HIVOS and IIED.Google Scholar
- Neilson, J., and B. Pritchard. 2009. Value chain struggles: Institutions and governance in the plantation districts of South India. Wiley Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Nelson, V., A. Tallontire, and M. Opondo. 2014. ‘Transformation or transgression? The development potential of Southern local multi-stakeholder initiatives in the context of retailer power’. In ed. Michael Goodman and Colin Sage (eds) Food Transgressions: Making sense of contemporary food politics. Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Ponte, S., and L. Riisgaard. 2011. Competition, ‘Best Practices’ and Exclusion in the market for social and environmental standards. In Governing Through Standards: Origins, Drivers, Limitation. ed S. Ponte, P. Gibbon and J Vestergaard, Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Potts, J., J. van der Meer, and J. Daitchman. 2010. The State of Sustainability Initiatives review 2010: Sustainability and transparency. http://pubs.iied.org/G03066.html. Accessed 21 Aug 2011.
- Sainsbury. 2002. Annual report on socially responsible sourcing to ETI, http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/files/reports/er_2002_eti.pdf. Accessed 14 June 2011.
- Smith, T.M., and M. Fischlein. 2010. Rival private governance networks: Competing to define the rules of sustainability performance, global environmental change 20: 511–522.SEDEX (2011) Annual Review 2009/10, London: SEDEX.Google Scholar
- Social Accountability International. 2013. SAI Programs, http://www.sa-intl.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&pageId=836, Accessed 21 Oct 2012.
- Tallontire, A., M. Opondo, and V. Nelson. 2013. Contingent spaces for smallholder participation in GlobalGAP: insights from Kenyan horticulture value chains, The Geographical Journal. doi: 10.1111/geoj.12047.
- UNCTAD. 2013. Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate. Trade and environment review 2013. United Nations conference on trade and development. http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=666. Accessed 23 Dec 2013.
- UNRISD. 2012. Potential and limits of Social and Solidarity Economy, Project Brief 2/October 2012. United Nations Research Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
- Usher, A., and K. Newitt. 2009. Beyond auditing. Tapping the full potential of labor standards promotion, Ergon Associates for dutch sustainable trade initiative, http://www.dutchsustainabletrade.com/en/idh-publications. Accessed 10 Jan 2011.
- Women Working Worldwide. 2013. Achieving a living wage for African flower workers executive summary of research into wages and living costs on horticulture farms in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Spring 2013 http://www.women-ww.org/documents/livingWage.pdf. Accessed 18 Oct 2013.