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Certified with trust and solidarity? Attitude, benefits and challenges of organic farmers in Participatory Guarantee Systems, Cacahoatán, Mexico

Hochreiter, Claudia (2011) Certified with trust and solidarity? Attitude, benefits and challenges of organic farmers in Participatory Guarantee Systems, Cacahoatán, Mexico. Masters thesis, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna . . [Completed]

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Organic marketing offers an important income source for many Mexican farmers. However, common certification by external agencies results in high costs and bureaucracy, thus limiting farmers’ access to markets. Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGSs) offer alternatives for farmer associations, organising certification as a process of social learning with broad stakeholder integration. The aim of my thesis is to give a socioeconomic profile of the farmers in PGSs and reveal their motives, agro-ecological attitudes, benefits from and challenges of collective organic certification with a particular emphasis on social aspects. For a comparison of a) participatory and b) externally certified farmers I realised interviews and focus group discussions in two groups in Cacahoatán, Chiapas. Results show that participatory certified farmers are more frequently female and live in less traditional family patterns compared to those with external certification. They tend to be less affluent, but more diversified in sources of income, production and social commitment. Although both lack a holistic agro-ecological attitude, participatory certified farmers share a stronger ecological, economic and social orientation towards the integral organic vision. In conclusion, diversified livelihood strategies of the farmers with PGS support their resilience and make them less vulnerable to shocks and crises than those in externally certified farmers who specialise in coffee exports. The major successes of the PGS lie in the social capital and social benefits its members perceive, confirming the social foundation the certification processes are built on. Concurrently, most challenges of participatory as well as external certification are of social nature, which supports the call for a more holistic design of the legal framework for organic certification on both global and national levels.

EPrint Type:Thesis
Thesis Type:Masters
Keywords:Organic agriculture, Organic certification, Alternative certification, Participatory Guarantee Systems, PGS, Mexico
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Food systems > Markets and trade
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Mexico
Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Research affiliation:Austria > Univ. BOKU Wien > Sustainable Agr. Systems - IfÖL
Deposited By: Hochreiter, DI Claudia
ID Code:20108
Deposited On:03 Jan 2012 10:30
Last Modified:03 Jan 2012 10:30
Document Language:English

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