|dc.description.abstracteng||Sustainable food production and consumption are important goals for an increasing number of consumers, policy makers, and other actors along global food chains. This is also reflected in the 12th United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal, which emphasizes the need for sustainable consumption and production patterns. As part of this trend, sustainability standards and related labeling of consumer products have gained in importance. Sustainability standards for food products address environmental, social welfare, and human rights issues – and often focus on tropical export crops produced by smallholder farmers in developing countries. Do poor farmers benefit from the boom in sustainability standards? A growing body of literature has analyzed this question, with mixed results. This dissertation is composed of three papers, contributing to this literature in different ways. All three papers are based on a farm household survey conducted in 2015 with smallholder coffee producers in Uganda. In total, we interviewed 455 farm households. Most of these households were already interviewed in 2012, allowing us to use panel data methods to address some of our research questions. Among the sample households, some are certified under Fairtrade, Organic, or UTZ. Other households are not certified under any standard. In each household, we interviewed male and female household members, to the extent possible. This allows us to analyze household-level and individual-level issues and effects.
The number of impact studies on sustainability standards and their effects on farm households in developing countries is growing. Yet, results are mixed and the evidence is not conclusive. We identified several research gaps, which are addressed in the papers presented in this dissertation. The existing work has primarily analyzed effects in terms of purely economic indicators, such as prices or incomes. Welfare outcomes such as household nutrition, child education, and gender equality have received very little scientific attention. Further, most existing studies have looked at the effect of one standard in one country, limiting our understanding of dissimilar effects of different types of standards. Further, almost all available studies are based on cross-sectional data, so that issues of possible selection bias are more difficult to address. To our knowledge, all available, quantitative studies are based on household-level data, so that issues of intra-household distribution of costs and benefits cannot be analyzed. Finally, farmers’ preferences have hardly received attention in the literature.
The first paper analyzes and compares effects of Fairtrade and Organic standards on consumption expenditures, child education, and household nutrition, contributing to a better understanding of the dissimilar welfare effects of different standards. The analysis is based on panel data, using both survey rounds: 2012 and 2015. In our panel data econometric models (i.e. fixed effects and random effects models) Organic and Fairtrade are included as binary, time-variant treatment variables. We find that both Organic and Fairtrade have positive effects on aggregate living standards. However, notable differences are observed with respect to nutrition and education. Organic contributes to improved nutrition but has no effect on education. For Fairtrade it is exactly the other way around. We explore the mechanisms behind these differences. We conclude that sustainability standards can have positive welfare effects for farm households, which is consistent with most of the existing evidence. Yet, our results also highlight that different standards can have dissimilar effects on various areas of household welfare. Understanding such differences between standards is not possible when considering one aggregate measure of living standard alone. Diverse development objectives require impact analyses with more disaggregated social welfare measures, as used in this study.
This second paper is the first quantitative study to explore heterogeneous treatment effects on women and men. We focus on two standards that explicitly address gender issues, namely Fairtrade and UTZ. Fairtrade and UTZ certified farmer organizations have to comply with non-discrimination policies. Further, they are encouraged to organize workshops on gender equality; to implement special programs tailored to women farmers’ needs; and to promote women’s participation in regular trainings. Our research objective is to assess if Fairtrade and UTZ benefit individuals in male-headed households (i.e. male household heads and female spouses) and in female-headed households (i.e. female household heads). Our analysis is based on cross-sectional, gender-disaggregated data from our sample of Ugandan coffee producers. For the statistical analysis, we use entropy balancing, allowing us to control for observed heterogeneity between certified and non-certified farmers. To reduce possible bias from unobserved heterogeneity, we use estimates of farmers’ willingness to accept (WTA) sustainability standards as a conditioning variable in reweighting the data. We analyze the effect of UTZ and Fairtrade standards on various outcome variables that capture different areas of empowerment. These include gendered asset ownership, participation in trainings and farmer group meetings, access to financial services, and time allocation. We find that sustainability standards increase household assets – including women’s assets. In male-headed households, standards also affect the distribution of wealth: While in non-certified households most assets are owned by the male household head alone, in certified households most assets are owned jointly by the male head and female spouse. Certified farmers also have better access to agricultural extension, irrespective of their gender. Yet, sustainability standards have no effect on women’s access to financial services. We conclude that sustainability standards may not completely eliminate gender disparities, but can at least contribute towards this goal.
The third paper analyzes farmers’ preferences for sustainability standards. Standards that are better tailored to farmers’ needs and preferences may be more attractive and feasible for a larger number of farmers, thus resulting in higher adoption rates. In this study, we specifically look at gender differences in preferences. A gender focus is important, because coffee and other certified export crops are often controlled by men. Our analysis is based on a choice experiment, which was conducted separately with male and female members of farm households. This choice experiment was included as part of the 2015 survey with Ugandan coffee producers. Attributes included in the choice experiment are: (1) the price received for the coffee sold, (2) agricultural training, (3) gender policies, (4) quality requirements, (5) handling of chemical pesticides, and (6) record keeping. For the statistical analysis, we use mixed logit models. Results indicate that farmers have positive attitudes towards sustainability standards in general. While they dislike bans of productivity-enhancing inputs, agricultural trainings are appreciated. Farmers also prefer standards that encourage better farm management and quality upgrading, suggesting that certification requirements may serve to encourage desirable investments in the small farm sector. Female farmers have a higher preference for sustainability standards than male farmers. Also within households, significant preference heterogeneity between women and men is found. However, we find that both male and female farmers appreciate special female support. In line with the second paper, we conclude that a stronger focus on gender policies could be an interesting option to further explore in some situations.
Based on all three papers, we conclude that sustainability standards can have broader welfare implications, which cannot be captured by only looking at short-term economic effects. Further, effects of – and preferences for – sustainability standards can be heterogeneous, and may vary within households. We also show that different types of standards can have different types of effects.
Generally, our results are in line with many previous studies, suggesting that sustainability standards can be beneficial for farmers who are able to adopt them. However, various studies also draw less positive conclusions. Thus, based on the existing body of literature, sustainability standards should neither be promoted as a silver bullet for poverty reduction, nor should they be seen as an empty promise.||de