Rural Farmer Empowerment Through Organic Food Exports: Lessons from Uganda and Ghana

  • Kristen LyonsEmail author
Reference work entry


Export of certified organic agricultural products provides a market-based development strategy to deliver socioeconomic and ecological benefits to smallholder farmers in the global South. Yet the outcomes of participation in organic export-led initiatives are mixed. The extent to which organic export agriculture can deliver benefits to smallholders is, at least in part, tied to the capacity of organic governance to include smallholder farmers as active participants in shaping the outcomes of inclusion in export markets. This chapter contributes to understandings of local-level impacts of organic exporting by evaluating smallholder empowerment as part of two central components of organic governance: organic standard setting and group certification. Drawing from fieldwork in Uganda and Ghana, results demonstrate that organic governance arrangements that developed alongside the initial emergence of global South-North organic exporting provided limited opportunities for Southern actor empowerment; standard setting processes mostly excluded smallholder and other Southern interests, and created new forms of dependency upon exporters. However, the introduction of group certification has provided smallholders’ deliberative capacity, bringing with it opportunities for democratic legitimacy as part of global organic governance. As South-North organic exporting has continued to expand, the industry has grappled with the ongoing challenge of greater smallholder inclusion, with outcomes that have continued to establish the basis for legitimate deliberative capacity. The chapter concludes by pointing to the possibilities for smallholder empowerment alongside ongoing organic industry maturation.


Empowerment Export agriculture Ghana Organic food and agriculture Uganda 


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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Radomir Compel

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