ERIC Number: EJ724352
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
Smallholder Participation and Certification of Organic Farm Products in Mexico
Gonzalez, Alma Amalia; Nigh, Ronald
Journal of Rural Studies, v21 n4 p449-460 Oct 2005
Organic and other environmental and social marketing devices seek to connect producers and consumers more directly and reward environmentally and socially superior production systems. Some researchers have observed that these schemes may introduce mechanisms of exclusion, creating an elite group of certified smallholders while putting non-certified farmers at a distinct disadvantage and introducing division among people whose true interest may lie more in relations of solidarity and cooperation. The trade and regulatory environment that smallholder coops must navigate is increasingly complex and adaptation to its requirements has important implications for farmer organizations. Standards applied to certify smallholder production systems tend to be developed with regard to first-world consumer interests and imposed in a top-down fashion by certification agencies and intermediaries, with little or no farmer participation. Especially in the tropics, agricultural standards that reflect temperate country conditions may place unnecessary burdens on growers who attempt to meet agronomic norms that are irrelevant to local agroecologies. After providing a summary of organic farming and certification in Mexico over the past two decades, we discuss three emerging trends: the advent of contract agriculture in organic production, the appearance of a new, environmentally-based coffee certification system intended to favor bird conservation, and a recent government program to support transition to organic production. All three trends involve certain contradictions, both with the foundational social and ecological goals of organic agriculture and with the interests of small farmers.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Conservation (Environment), Marketing, Certification, Agricultural Occupations, Consumer Economics, Agricultural Production, Agronomy
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mexico