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Coffee narrative with a focus on certification schemes: Ethiopian agri-food value chain in a global market context.

Oe, H., Yamaoka, Y. and Ochiai, H., 2022. Coffee narrative with a focus on certification schemes: Ethiopian agri-food value chain in a global market context. Academy of Strategic Management Journal. (In Press)

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Abstract

Certification schemes that simultaneously promote ecologically sustainable agriculture and improve livelihoods are being used on a global scale. Particularly in the agrifood sector in developing countries, the introduction and implementation of certification schemes, supported by international aid agencies and donor organisations, is generally highly valued for its contribution to community self-reliance and improved working conditions for workers, in addition to economic outcomes. However, few studies have analysed stakeholders' perceptions of certification schemes in detail and suggested policy implications. This study focuses on the value chain of certified Ethiopian coffee and qualitatively assesses the prospects and challenges of coffee certification schemes, challenges to be transcended for building sustainable communities and pathways to solutions from the perspective of three groups: coffee farmers in Ethiopia, supply chain stakeholders and consumers in Japan, its largest importer and consumer, and experts on certification schemes in the agricultural sector in developing countries. Primary data provided for the analysis was collected from a total of 24 stakeholders (8 from Ethiopian coffee farmers and managers in Group 1, 10 from importing and distributors of coffee and consumers in coffee consuming countries in Group 2, and 6 from experts on certification systems and academics in the agribusiness sector in Group 3) The interviews were conducted using the ZOOM remote method, taking into account the Covid situation. The textual data obtained were analysed using triangulation techniques according to the three groups of interviewees. It has been found that local farmers were at least aware of the certification schemes themselves, but were not interested in their overarching significance or impact on the supply chain as a whole (Group 1). On the other hand, both Groups 2 and 3 recognised the significance of using certification schemes as an opportunity for the sustainable success of agro-businesses and the balanced development of local communities. In particular, the third group commonly argued for the importance of a system that benefits the production area. The biggest challenge facing certification schemes is the indifference of production areas and, ironically, the imbalance of interests on the part of consumers. Consumer groups in consumption areas, especially in the metropolitan areas of developed countries, perceive a product with a certification mark as a brand value, and in the B2B marketing process in the sales channel, the fact that a product has a certification mark is perceived as a unique selling point (USP). On the other hand, with regard to the conservation of natural assets in certified areas, which is one of the main objectives of the certification system, the study concluded that the establishment of a regional learning scheme involving local farmers and public institutions is an urgent issue, not to mention the fact that field surveys to quantitatively monitor and evaluate the condition of agricultural land are essential. In particular, three points were highlighted: improving the working conditions of women workers, spreading awareness for this purpose and the values that should be passed on to the next generation. It was suggested that effective operation of certification schemes is in line with the achievement of SDG 12, but that a comprehensive approach to the implementation of certification schemes and a tireless review strategy, closely linked to SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), is essential. Particularly in a situation where short-term economic benefits from premium prices are greater than the potential medium- and long-term benefits of certification schemes, the conclusion is that local villagers and farmers should simultaneously emphasise the importance of investing in environmental improvements for farm workers and fair wage systems, together with extension and education programmes on the original purpose and significance of certification schemes and their long-term implications.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:1544-1458
Uncontrolled Keywords:agri-food sector; sustainable supply chain; coffee; value chain; Certification; resilience; ecosystem; labour conditions; UN SDGs
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:37313
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:04 Aug 2022 08:59
Last Modified:04 Aug 2022 08:59

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