Private standards are increasingly becoming export barriers to small-scale farmers in Africa
EU regulatory requirements on fresh food imports are already tough (including pesticide regulations, market grade standards, traceability and general hygiene of foodstuffs). Yet, standards imposed by the private sector, notably the EurepGAP protocol for fresh fruit and vegetable production goes even beyond these requirements.
An article in Pesticide News argues that the impact of private standards such as EurepGAP is leading to vertically integrated food supply chains that are dominated by a powerful alliance of retailers in Europe.
Even though there are positive spillover effects in terms of pesticide use and good practices, the compliance with such standards is heavily burdensome. The ISO type Quality Management System (QMS) of EurepGAP is very complex and demanding for small-scale farmers.
The QMS audit takes about half a day and involves roughly 400 documents. It is impossible to implement this without external support and makes one wonder whether all this is necessary to ensure food safety, or whether it just serves the major European retailers to keep potential competition out of the market.
A recent survey by the National Research Institute in the UK showed that 10 out of 90 farms in Zambia that are EurepGAP certified (mostly large farms) were still unable to comply with the standards because they were missing essential infrastructure or classic mistakes have been made by auditors such as advice to keep first aid kid inside the pesticide store.
Read the full article
Read the EurepGAP standards