Participative organic certification, trust and local rural communities development: the case of Rede Ecovida
New Medit, vol 8, n. 2, (June 2009), pp. 56-64
Jel classification: Q180, O180
The participatory guarantee systems (PGS) for organic certification do not involve a third party certification body; therefore, the lower certification costs involved make it particularly suitable for rural communities in developing countries. Its success is related to the chance of being recognised at a national as well as international level and to its role in promoting the local rural development. The goal of the present study is to explore how social cohesion, trust and market relate one to another along the supply chain and to explain the interaction between participatory organic certification and the development of rural communities. The analytical approach, based on the work of Henry Farrell, considers how the level of formalism among the agents involved in the certification process interacts with the flexibility and scope of the relationship, including the extension of the market area in which the social control can provide guarantees comparable to those a third party certification body can give. We analysed the case of Rede Ecovida, a network of organic and conventional farmers and other stakeholders operating along the production chain, including local NGOs. The data and information collection has been carried out involving an empirical survey analysing the reasons leading to perform organic farming and set up a participatory organic certification, and an evaluation of the participatory organic farming impact on trade relationships. Collected data have been integrated with the results of another survey on the Rede Ecovida. The survey had an exploratory nature since the estimators are biased, coming form an non random and non representative sample. Results showed the positive effect of the participatory approach on the local economic, social and environmental development, and its still very low chances to have access to the export market. An interesting finding regards the role of the farmers network (Rede Ecovida) in promoting trust in the organic products beyond the boundaries of local communities.
organic certification, transaction costs, participatory guarantee systems, developing countries, local markets