The role of market forces and food safety institutions in the adoption of sustainable farming practices: the case of the fresh tomato export sector in Morocco and Turkey

Fresh produce growers are the main source of food contamination by chemical pesticides. In their choice of farming practices, producers are influenced by market forces as well as public and private safety regulations – or “macro-drivers” – as opposed to farm-level micro-drivers. Growers respond to their business and regulatory environment by implementing integrated pest management (IPM) and other good agricultural practices (GAP), where profitable through certification schemes. Our paper attempts to analyse the adoption of sustainable farming practices beyond farm and farmer characteristics, focusing on the role of structural and institutional macro-drivers. The empirical research is based on the comparison between Turkey and Morocco, two Mediterranean countries with high export activity in the fresh tomato sector but with contrasting features in terms of both sustainable farming practices and micro/macro-drivers. With regard to the latter, we simultaneously consider supply-side and demand-side aspects (i.e. the requirements of buyers in importing countries). The analysis draws on the literature examining both IPM/GAP adoption and the impact of food safety regulation on firms' strategies. We call on face-to-face interviews with a relatively large number of tomato growers in the main production areas (N=86 in Morocco and N=186 in Turkey). Our findings show that the average level of sustainable practices is greatly affected by national market and institutional particularities, in particular on the demand side. Moreover the surveys confirm the initial assumption of the major role played by private actors in managing safety risk when there are high business stakes, as in export chains oriented towards rich Western countries.

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Working or Discussion Paper
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JEL Codes:
D23; Q13; Q18

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