[ASC-media] Media release: safer food means new farm players

JCA Media jca.media at starclass.com.au
Tue Aug 15 01:34:13 CEST 2006

International Association of Agricultural Economists 26th Conference
Gold Coast Convention Centre, Qld, Australia
August 12-18, 2006	   ph 07 5504 4057


Tuesday, August 15, 2006							IAAE15


Tough new global food safety standards may provide fresh opportunities for poor farmers in developing countries - and more competition for other producers.  

"Stricter standards imposed by companies in the industrialised countries might be expected to shut out small-scale farmers in developing countries," says Dr Clare Narrod, Research Fellow for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC.

"But our research shows that these farmers are benefiting quite markedly from international standards, and they are improving their incomes as a result." 

Addressing the International Association of Agricultural Economics (IAAE) conference on Australia's Gold Coast , Dr. Narrod says that until recently very little research has been done on the impact of stricter standards on the poor in developing countries.

"Export crops like green beans are often grown side-by-side with crops for domestic markets, such as tomatoes.  Meeting international standards means altering farm management practices for hygiene and testing of water and soils," says Dr Narrod. "In turn, improved farm management raises the safety standards for other food crops. As a result, domestic consumers reap the benefit of higher standards imposed by the international market."

These global standards are largely driven by the private sector, as the major supermarket chains attempt to meet their customers' expectations. But this process has led to the creation of international standards applicable to all food suppliers, be they smallholders in developing countries or large-scale operators.

Meeting these new challenges requires support from the public sector. For example, the supply of clean water, a pre-condition for food production to meet today's market demands, requires government investment and involvement.

"Cross contamination with plant or animal pathogens is a real threat," says Dr. Narrod, "and food-producing smallholders will have difficulty meeting international standards if adequate infrastructure for provision of clean water is lacking."

Many researchers have discussed the impact of these standards on agricultural trade. 
"There is widespread concern that some countries are using food safety standards as trade barriers in order to protect their own local producers. But there's not much empirical evidence to support this proposition," asserts Dr Narrod. "The reality is that safety has improved both for developing and developed countries, and this has had beneficial effects all along the food production chain."

Dr Narrod says that many smallholders in developing countries are having great difficulty in ensuring that their products are being recognized as meeting new tougher standards.

"There are massive gaps in our knowledge of how food safety standards are affecting poor people and the role various institutions have played in facilitating smallholder participation in high value agricultural supply chains," she notes.  "Research plays a key role in providing insights to policymakers, as they work to assist poor farmers in meeting global safety standards."

The IAAE's 26th Annual Conference, "The Contribution of Agricultural Economics to Critical Policy Issues," is being held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, Qld, from August 12-18, 2006.

More information:
IAAE media centre, Gold Coast Convention Centre, +61 (0)7 5504 4057
Dr Clare Narrod, International Food Policy Research Institute, +1 301 962 0227
Media contact: Prof. Julian Cribb, 0418 639245

Conference program & details:

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