Valerie Nelson - Pathways of power in African agri-food chains


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Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice

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  • The Politics of Private Standards (POPS) – governance implications (ESRC and DFID funded) African horticulture is responding to market demand for quality produce that also complies with buyer codes on agricultural practice and labour rights by establishing private standards initiatives (PSIs) What do PSIs mean for regulation and stakeholder relationships in developing countries and along the global value chain?
  • Enthusiasm: a safe space to address common problems, promote dialogue, imrpove worker welfare, localisation so more appropriate to local conditions, high value market access, product quality improvement and competitiveness, space for participation of excluded, multi-stakeholder Concerns : not effective, may compete with gov. regulation or prevent other forms of regulation emerging, require effective monitoring etc)
  • huge variety of private standards Some may be familiar like fair trade – since 2005 FLO certifed flowers Others specific to flower sector (from Netherlands and Germany – MPS, FLP, FFP) Some are business to business and cover a variety of agri-food products – GlobalGAP with a focus on food safety Some are Kenya specific –developed by industry or industry plus other stakeholders
  • Powersphere: ‘Cluster of hierarchical roles, organisations, institutions and persons invested with power and authority, in opposition to the people who grant them legitimacy from outside and may seek to influence it the trajectory and direction of change the changing configurations of actors sources and types of power Factions: Group with shared values, socialized to internalise norms and roles. Factions compete and react to advance interests, positions and agendas of individual members. Draw upon own culture, views of how the world should work etc GOVERNANCE AS PROCESS Governance evolves as faction compete and groups outside seek to influence it. Power relations persist, breakdown or are gradually transformed
  • Global sourcing by retailers and brands had rapidly expanded, often based cheap labour in producing countries, but concerns about working conditions has led some civil society organisations to demand improvements. Cut flower producers making decisions on labour rights and standards (outlook & values of managers), No market demand from retailers to make changes, little TU involvement (except in collective bargaining, . NGOs not focusing on labour rights and workers no voice. Gov. sets labour laws, but ltd. enforcement capacity Diversity amongst retailers but also significant power in these particular value chains (buyer driven) Consumers largely unaware
  • Media pressure on CSR, international NGO campaigns. Companies begin to develop own codes. Some sectoral codes (e.g. flower fair trade from Germany) ETI established in the UK with retailers, NGOs, and TUs joining KFC (powerful exporter association) begins to develop its own technical code, social standards come later ETI promotes idea of Southern MSIs in pilots in different countries
  • Complaints by workers at Del Monte pineapple farms and factories about labour abuses and lack of union action, leads to shop stewards at the Kenya Union Human Rights Commission in mid-1999 approaching Kenya Human Rights Commission. Led to some changes on pineapple estates, but progress not enough. Attention now turned to flowers Joint campaign by national advocacy oriented NGO (KEWWO) and UK Based NGO (WWW) threatening to lodge complaints via ETI system and going public etc plus continuing media coverage Stakeholder meetings convened in Nairobi with donor support. Industry associations and invited NGOs attend. ETI conduct visit to Kenya and promote idea of southern based MSI New window of opportunity for action
  • HEBI offered a: Social Base Code; Training on auditing (promotion of participatory social auditing); Coordination of social ethics annual stakeholder workshop; First and Second Party Auditor Service HEBI Board : Exporters; NGOs; Trade Union Observers: Africa Now; UK Department for International Development; Royal Netherlands Embassy Rep Ministry of Agriculture, Horticulture Division rep; Ministry of Labour rep; Ministry of Trade rep Stakeholders meet in series of donor convened meetings. ETI visits Kenya. New space is shaped into HEBI, by retailers, donors, ETI HEBI emerges out of stakeholder meetings following ETI visit and donor and retailer pressure. KFC and FPEAK seem to support HEBI establishment but do not follow up with significant support. HEBI aims are to develop own code, train and establish PSA methodology for auditing as a more appropriate approach. But only limited number of PSA audits carried out. A weak CEO put in place, meetings not held…the boundaries for action (methods to be used, scope of issues to be covered) were constrained by the key actors that established HEBI such as retailers, IntL NGOs, donors etc that focused on use of standards and auditing… NGOs in Kenya feel forced to join but later say they are unhappy with the process and feel co-opted. Heat taken out of the campaign but HEBI is not achieving gains on labour standards. Key national TU (KPAWU) will not join due to role conflict and personal antagonism undermining the legitimacy of the MSI. Election violence adds to the lack of action, donors withdraw funding at lack of action.
  • HEBI stalls. Some pilot PSA audits conducted but barriers thrown up by suppliers and not continued. Weak leadership and poor organisation of meetings. Lack of trust. No board meeting since early 2008. 2. KFC still proactive on social issues and taken up some ideas. 3. National NGOs feel they were co-opted into HEBI and energy of campaign has been dissipated. But perceptions that they were also divided and unused to negotiation as opposed to advocacy roles. Small capacity often with one key individual. Some more service oriented NGOs have continued to engage with private sector providing services. Commercial auditors sought for most audits. 4. FLO Fairtrade has expanded rapidly with cut flower HL standard of 2005. It is becoming much more powerful on labour issues, although issues on ltd worker empowerment progress vs. material objectives. But FT is about empowerment rather than minimum labour standards and so FT is seeking to respond (e.g. making premium committees seek links with TUs, but likely to be difficult in Kenya, pushing for worker development plans, also regional Fairtrade networks but currently no direct representation of workers as HL – producer reps go. Is increasing representation on board and in standard setting but still very limited, and invited space. 5. Advocacy oriented NGOs establishing regional networks (GHOWERN – Global Horticultural Workers’ and Environmental Rights Network (GHOWERN) – involves TUs in other countries, but not the key TU In Kenya (KPAWU) – continuing role conflicts and personal antagonisms. 6. For donors labour issues are receiving less attention than before (attention to smallholder market access and GlobalGAP/Food safety issues), etc DFID ILO ..Decent Work agenda. Also internationally NGOs payng less attention to labour issues. 7. Critically retailers have not waited for MSIs to work and their attention is primarily on GLOBALGAP and food safety. Especially the bigger ones (Tesco, Carrefour, Walmart…GCSI) are seeking harmonisation of standards and compliance, emphasizing very basic, weak social standards and standardized reporting, focusing on ouputs (e.g. working hours) rather than process rights (negotiation, capacity building). They have rejected PSA on a widespread basis and conducting risk assessment, in a technical ‘command and control’ approach (uses simple auditing methods, SMETA) and an internet tool (SEDEX) for risk assessments, use of commercial auditors. More detailed audits conducted only in a number of places where specific problems arise. So less chance for transformation of worker labour standards and rights. Greater control moving to larger retailers and international level rather than local and national – possibilities that ETI and other national MSIs will be sidelined. Limited stakeholder engagement – instead focusing on the compliance agenda. I.E. SPACES CLOSING?
  • Sources of power – largely buyer driven value chain. Huge contracts. Suppliers have little option but to follow to retain market access – now a prerequisite for market access. Suppliers may look for other markets to circumvent standards. Discursive power – e.g. in changing interpretation of HEBI mandate – from accountability/transformation to compliance agenda.. Some buyers building up supplier engagement, focusing on improvement, but most re-focusing on compliance and now through global approach. Managing risk is the priority.
  • Who frames the problem and the solutions? (food safety increasingly important on agenda, labour rights having less attention, standards and auditing as opposed to capacity building and voice). Who sets the rules in labour standards and rights? In contexts of significant power inequalities it is difficult to see transformation occurring as a result of blunt private trade standards Worker voice has not been increased A space opened up for participation, a window of opportunity claimed by shadow networks (NGOs, media scrutiny etc), but lack of legitimacy as TUs refused to join, in context of immense retailer power the space was quickly co-opted and influence of donors, ETI, GLCI at international level driving what happens at national level in Kenya ET discourses decoupled from socio-ecological trajectory of an area. Increasing attention on water and carbon footprints, but before that focus was mainly on pesticide use and food safety Greater horizontal linking and citizen mobilization – at multiple scales - is needed to allow alternative narratives to challenge the hegemonic ones. Aim to transform the social contract that businesses have with farmers, workers, consumers and wider society in the global North and South, achieving more socially just and environmentally sustainable pathways. When can change happen? More case studies. Energy of a moment/movement can be dissipated quickly in situations of significant power inequality, groups can be coopted
  • connectivity, modularity, self-organisation and learning, diversity, tight feedbacks, social capital etc, etc) to see if useful analytical tool (also in Fairtrade research). Can encourage a) longer-timeframes in analysis, b) greater attention to shocks and trends, c) questioning of what kind of diversity is needed and balancing with asset building etc. collective action (and the associated rhetoric) theoretically represents an advance in development terms, where progressive objectives can be achieved through them. However, it is not always clear exactly how such spaces emerge in reality, who they involve, and what their potentials might be. There is a risk that such spaces can merely mask power inequalities, in situations where more deep-seated structural changes are needed (Gaventa 2006: 23).
  • HEBI: No board meeting since early 2008 Not dead but sleep, or killed by private sector? KFC proactive on social issues and engaging outside industry
  • “ [Fairtrade] is like bonus given back to workers” (female worker) “‘ there is a fair trade project here where children are provided with food, pampers and clothes; all of which have been paid for by fair trade” (female worker) FIND Info – Cath Dolan Paper
  • Contrasting visions of local PSIs: Whose space and for what? Could be viewed in several different ways: Civil society actors hoped for a more transformational tool for awareness-raising amongst workers, localizing international labour standards, creating accountability and improving labour standards. Private sector actors saw HEBI as rooted in social auditing as a technical mechanism of compliance and remediation and whilst Kenyan companies participated in some preliminary social audits, barriers were thrown up to prevent them being particularly effective and no more were undertaken. The new ‘ethical space’ became dominated by the compliance interpretation of HEBI and led to the co-opting of campaigning organizations. Some retailers see a role for PSIs like HEBI as a ‘local resource for remediation’ and perhaps as a tool for Some of these differences in role relate to an emerging distinction in the standards literature between standards for risk management and standards for differentiation (Henson and Humphrey 2008) and the work on impact assessment which demonstrates reasonable progress on outcome rights Local PSIs Trying to be or perceived to be about different things at different times or even at the same time. Different understanding about priority tasks One group interpreted PSA as a MORE transformational mechanism for raising awareness of workers, accountability and instituting change, another saw HEBI as rooted in social audit as a TECHNOCRATIC mechanism of compliance and remediation. As well as competing visions, there were competing providers - several retailers and their supply chain partners began to look beyond HEBI for social auditing in their mainstream business and some sought market differentiation through Fairtrade certification. Our interviews and workshops in 2008 highlighted HEBI’s lack of market recognition, the demand from retailers for Fairtrade certification for flowers, and the efforts by certain vegetable growers to develop a Fairtrade standard for vegetables. Whilst Fairtrade had been fairly insignificant in the market in 2002 (Dolan et al 2003) it was suddenly regarded by our workshop participants to be the benchmark standard: Fairtrade has the market in their pockets!’ ( workshop 2 participant) Visions on the right hand side are dominant
  • Valerie Nelson - Pathways of power in African agri-food chains

    1. 1. Pathways of power in African agri-food chains Grant ref: RES-167-25-0195 May 2007-April 2010 University of Nairobi Presentation by Valerie Nelson. Based on research by V.Nelson, UoG; Anne Tallontire, SRI, University of Leeds (PL), Maggie Opondo, University of Nairobi & Adrienne Martin, NRI (University of Greenwich).
    2. 2. <ul><li>Introducing private standards </li></ul><ul><li>Power dynamics and pathways in certified value chains </li></ul><ul><li>Case study of a Kenyan PSI </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Private standards initiatives (PSIs) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisations/networks/individuals who develop, monitor and promote new standards (on labour rights/ good agricultural practice) in global value chains…response to weak goverment enforcement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Driven from & based in North, PSIs then set up in the south </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Early enthusiasm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But also concerns </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Case Study: Labour issues in Kenyan horticulture & floriculture global value chains <ul><ul><li>Global value chains 80s and 90s, bringing cut flowers and vegetables grown in Kenya to be sold in the UK </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plethora of private standards in recent years to tackle perceived social and environmental problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Related initiatives in Europe at international scale on labour rights and good agricultural practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our research on PSIs at different levels (food safety and labour) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methods (FGDs at local level, series of stakeholder workshops, key informant interviews) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A new space – HEBI (Multi-S, southern location) </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. KenyaGAP KenyaGAP GRASP
    6. 6. Power dynamics & pathways in a system <ul><li>Identify core power players or factions in & outside of a powersphere’* </li></ul><ul><li>Analyse new spaces for participation** that emerge or are created in the ‘powersphere’ </li></ul><ul><li>*** claimed, invited, or closed; scale; place/location </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Who is included and who is excluded? </li></ul><ul><li>Who shapes the narratives and who controls material resources? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sources: * *Manuel-Navarrete, Pelling and Redclift et al, 2009; ** Cornwall, 2002:2-3; *** Gaventa, 2008 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. CORE POWER PLAYERS IN POWERSPHERE Kenya Gov. National & Intl NGOs National & Intl Trade unions Workers Value Chain Governance & labour issues Phase 1 Limited enforcement of labour standards (early 1990s) Kenya Suppliers & trade associations UK Retailers Consumers KFC Fpeak
    8. 8. CORE POWER PLAYERS IN POWERSPHERE Kenya Gov. National & Intl NGOs National & Intl Trade unions Workers Phase 2: Pressure begins on labour issues (mid-1990s). IntL media ETI Retailers Kenya Suppliers & trade associations KFC Fpeak Donors Consumers fair trade
    9. 9. CORE POWER PLAYERS IN POWERSPHERE Gov. of Kenya Advocacy oriented INTL and National NGOs National TU Workers Phase 3 Window of opportunity in early 2000s as new space opens up with joint Intl and national NGO campaign, plus donor & ETI roles Intl media Retailers Suppliers Fpeak KFC ETI ? Donors Commercial auditors Consumers fair trade
    10. 10. CORE POWER PLAYERS IN POWERSPHERE Gov. of Kenya Advocacy oriented NGOs National TU Workers Phase 4 A new space opens up and is shaped as HEBI (early 2003) Intl media Retailers Suppliers Fpeak KFC ETI HEBI Service Oriented NGOs Commercial auditors Consumers fair trade
    11. 11. CORE POWER PLAYERS IN POWERSPHERE Gov. of Kenya Advocacy oriented NGOs National TU Workers Phase 5: Spaces closing? HEBI stalls Retailers adopt more globalized and technical approaches. FT gains ground. (Late 2000s to now) Intl media Retailers Suppliers Fpeak KFC ETI Service Oriented NGOs Commercial auditors Big retailers Consumers Fairtrade Food safety agenda Carbon & water footprint agenda Election violence 2007 Activist consumers
    12. 12. Dominant narratives in ethical trade <ul><li>Narrow focus on labour and food safety in sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>voluntary trade standards as the solution </li></ul><ul><li>Kenya stakeholders - demand for standards from large movements of activist consumers, vs retailers managing reputational risks </li></ul><ul><li>Assumptions about who pays - suppliers not retailers </li></ul><ul><li>Whether retailers should make changes to purchasing practices </li></ul><ul><li>Relative importance food safety vs labour issues </li></ul><ul><li>Who should have a voice: Articulation by workers of their views - not valued </li></ul><ul><li>Technicisation of labour rights: output rights (hours worked, H&S etc) prioritized over and above process rights, negotiation & capacity building </li></ul><ul><li>Shift in ETI rhetoric, compliance to transformation, but power relations same </li></ul><ul><li>FT as empowerment and providing worker voice – only ltd as yet? </li></ul>
    13. 13. Dominant narratives 2 <ul><ul><li>Retailers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not totally heterogeneous but generally multi-stakeholder initiatives - too slow and ineffective. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NGOs and multi-stakeholder initiatives mainly service providers (local resource for remediation), irritants when advocacy oriented. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>PSA too expensive No time for developing relationships between stakeholders. Others can represent workers (however effective they are in reality). Prefer ‘command and control’ approaches, harmonisation at global level etc. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Alternative narratives <ul><ul><li>Other problems (e.g. wider environmental and social impacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What scope for workers to set own priorities? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Labour issues not less important than food safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building worker awareness of labour rights or potential of FT/other standards to build their voice, limitations of worker committees (welfare focus), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TUs and NGOs linking up to support workers. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Conclusions <ul><li>More thought and attention should be given to how to support less powerful groups to articulate their own narratives, to open up participatory spaces, and to transform labour rights and standards </li></ul><ul><li>Attention needed for improving not only ecological literacy but also political literacy? </li></ul><ul><li>Useful concepts of powerspheres, factions, spaces, challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Synthesizing rich empirical material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real time observations/ethnography of values/culture underlying factions, as well as institutions/discourses and material resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Private sector access </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use in action research </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Action research issues <ul><li>Current rural-urban action research project </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(CCAA funded, IRA, Chancellor College, NRI) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Strengthening capacity of rural-urban food and agriculture systems in the face of climate change (Tz and Malawi) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Situation analyses and now identifying action research themes </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Builds on previous rural agricultural adaptation to climate change project, also action research with learning alliances at different scales </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Challenges in action research of tackling power relations explicitly </li></ul><ul><li>Boundary partners in outcome approach have to sign up to tackle sensitive issues. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Preliminary reflections <ul><li>Building trust - Finding entry points to reveal and explore power relations that is not too confrontational but does not ignore power inequalities either </li></ul><ul><li>Potential costs for individuals in the short term </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits of political literacy for more effective solutions in longer-term </li></ul><ul><li>Build political literacy of facilitators – how to analyse (and then challenge?) dominant narratives. </li></ul><ul><li>National consultative group tool – potential protective role (convened by team) and link into policy </li></ul><ul><li>Making a system visible (in this case urban food security, rural-urban food and agriculture interactions) </li></ul><ul><li>Begun analysing findings of situation analysis for Tz using resilience indicators – raises new questions/lenses for analysis </li></ul><ul><li>BUT language and concepts of resilience thinking often dense and mystifying </li></ul><ul><li>ecological concepts of resilience thinking only metaphors in social realm? (can become cliched? masking rather than revealing?) </li></ul>
    18. 18. “ striving to develop an all-encompassing Code of Conduct that will be acceptable to all stakeholders. World Flowers has actively participated in HEBI discussions and meetings and two supplier farms were audited during the pilot trials” (World Flowers website ) HEBI: short-lived collaboration “ to encourage the development and use of locally developed schemes, as sustainable and credible monitoring systems. For example, the South African Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association scheme and the development of the Horticulture Ethical Business Initiative scheme in Kenya” (Sainsbury Ethical Trade reports, 2002 and 2003) 2002/3 2007 “ It’s absolutely dead in the water…HEBI is out of money and out of ideas….There is no multi-stakeholder forum in Kenya…You’re back to KFC being the only game in town…” ( interview, UK private sector)
    19. 19. Ethical dynamics 3 – space re-closes? <ul><li>FLO Fairtrade </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established a cut flower standard (YEAR) and has spread rapidly, becoming increasingly important for labour standards in cut flowers. Principles driven, but isolated spaces. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognition of importance of TUs and collective bargaining – FT has been accredited with CBAs being formed on some leading farms in Kenya </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fairtrade local level spaces focused on material needs as opposed to strategic; (e.g. material benefits focus rather than worker empowerment) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workers see Fairtrade actors as external and powerful, not as partners in participatory process (as in rhetoric) (Dolan ref). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fairtrade does not seek to replace the TUs. But as yet no formal institutional links at international or national levels; some serendipitous links at the local level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Earlier German fair trade label (FLP) has fallen by the wayside </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New Fairtrade producer networks (APN) provide opportunity to link up producers, but is it a claimed or invited space? Nascent, and still debate over their role in Fairtrade (services, and/or advocacy) and trying to involve workers and producers at different scales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fairtrade policies for ‘hired labour’ in infancy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Proposals from standards committee in FLO Link premium committees to worker committees and independent TUs, but needs supoort and Production of a worker development plan with greater consultation by outside bodies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Worker voice – only weak representation by NGOs and TUs. No direct worker participation and weak representation by NGOs and TUs in HEBI. </li></ul><ul><li>NGO and TUs continue to have role conflict, distrust, (politicised TUs, weak NGOs) </li></ul><ul><li>Some service oriented NGOs have increased their linkages to KFC </li></ul><ul><li>Kenya NGOs – GHOWERN </li></ul><ul><li>Pressures for a more globalised and technical approach: Trends for dialogue at global level via initiatives such as GSCP and SEDEX, increasingly technical, even less open/invitations restricted. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Contrasting visions of local PSIs for labour rights Local resource for remediation Awareness -raising amongst workers- participatory approaches Provide local interpretation of global standards Accountability for and improving labour standards Short-term response to NGO campaigns & poor media Social audit to demonstrate compliance