Coffee certification in Brazil : compliance with social standards and its implications for social equity

Titre Coffee certification in Brazil : compliance with social standards and its implications for social equity
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Titre du périodique Link Springer, Environment, Development and Sustainability
Date 2018
Pagination 30 p.
Résumé Abstract : This paper addresses the relationship between compliance with social performance criteria (the social outcomes that must be achieved for certification) and procedural (management) criteria and this relationship’s significance for social equity at both farm and wider landscape levels. We consider social performance compliance to be pertinent to farm-level equity, and the relative compliance of small versus large farms to be pertinent to landscape-level equity. Certification’s management requirements are often deemed disproportionately burdensome for small, resource-poor producers, and hence a barrier to landscape-level equity. There is a lack of research examining how management criteria impact the ability of different sized farms to meet certification’s social performance requirements. We analysed 435 certification audits, covering all Brazilian coffee farms that sought Rainforest Alliance certification from 2006 to 2014 inclusive: 80 individual farms and 23 groups of farms. In principle, undergoing group certification permits smallholders to benefit from economies of scale. Our analysis revealed a statistically significant, positive correlation between compliance with procedural (managing sustainability plans) and social performance criteria. This correlation was stronger for groups than individual farms. Group farms’ compliance was statistically equivalent to that of individual farms, suggesting that group certification is achieving its intended purpose of socio-economic levelling of certified farmers. Over time, certified farms’ average compliances improved. Our findings suggest that management requirements play an important role in improving smallholders’ overall social sustainability performance and that group certification may help resource-poor smallholders achieve those requirements. Further work is required to understand causal mechanisms underlying the relationships we present."

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