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Does organic farming improve small-scale farmers’ livelihoods in rural Ghana? Does it foster sustainable development in the region?


Research Institutions:

Department of Food Economics and Consumption Studies at the University of Kiel, Kiel Institute for the World Economy


Summary of the project:
As consumers’ demand for organic products is increasing, organic certification for agricultural products is increasingly promoted in many developing countries. Despite this fact, so far no comprehensive evaluation has been carried out as to how much the certification efforts have impacted upon the livelihoods of producers, and on the environment. There are both critical and positive voices in the literature that is based on case studies or assessments of single aspects of this complex issue. The shift from conventional to organic production might be an opportunity for small and middle-sized farmers to reap higher returns from their investments by enabling access to developed countries’ premium markets. However, entry barriers to certification processes have been found that disadvantage resource poor farmers, and the environmental sustainability of low or no input use in certified organic production has been questioned.

Hence, the central issues to be addressed are:
o    The extent to which (export-oriented) certified organic production benefits the poor and the environment.
o    The relationship between certification, market access and characteristics of both members and non-members of the group benefiting from certification schemes.

We use Ghanaian pineapple as a case study. Like other tropical fruit, pineapple is grown predominantly in developing countries. Pineapples are one of the most important non-traditional export crops for Ghana, and the country is the third largest supplier of pineapples to the EU. Primary data from Ghana was collected during two visits to Ghana in March 2009 and from January to March 2010. Secondary data from Ghana and several European countries was collected from January-February 2009 and in summer 2009.

The data analysis consists of three steps. We study market structures and developments in the first step. Organic price premiums, spatial and vertical price transmission, and the value chains for organic and conventional pineapple are analysed in this part. The second part aims to examine the factors that influence the adoption of certified production, including cultural factors and learning processes. The third part addresses the impact of certification on the environment and livelihoods of small- and medium-scale farmers. Treatment effects models (e.g. propensity score matching, Heckman selection) are used to analyse the data and to generate comprehensive information on the economic impact. The environmental impact is measured using life cycle assessment and the valuation of indirect effects (e.g. use of organic methods, effects on health of producers). Finally, the results from all three steps will be summarized in a measure of sustainable value added, that allows an overall assessment of the environmental and economic effects of organic certified export production, having developed an approach and a methodology that can be translated to other products and other certification schemes.

Addressing these impact dimensions will have an important input for policy dialogue that can foster private sector development and create sustainable income generating measures for developing country farmers.


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