UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Practical mergers : export-oriented value chains and food sovereignty pathways in Haiti and Ecuador Hergesheimer, Chris


This dissertation explores the possibilities and limitations of food sovereign agricultural value chains and the role that alternative trading arrangements, including export-oriented fair trade, can play in their development. The dissertation first develops value chain evaluation criteria from the conceptual congruence between the principles of food sovereignty and fair trade. This framework identifies six criteria that contribute to a ‘practical merger’, which is defined as an export-oriented value chain that aligns closely with food sovereignty principles. Utilizing a comparative case study methodology with a small-scale fair trade mango grower association in Haiti and a small-scale fair trade banana producer association in Ecuador, this dissertation analyzes the diverse processes and mechanisms that smallholders and their associations use to take advantage of the benefits, and mitigate the risks, of participation in fair trade export markets. It examines the following questions: What core principles of food sovereignty can be practically merged with market-based development agendas to create more equitable export-oriented value chains for small-scale producers? How can the practical merger framework contribute to understanding the relationships between participation in fair trade supply chains and food sovereignty principles? My case studies show that small-scale producers desire and rely on participation in international markets, but experience challenges related to farm size and economies of scale, the lack of participation in value chain governance, and value distribution asymmetries throughout the supply chains. Results also highlight additional limitations to small-scale producers’ abilities to shape export-oriented value chains in their favor. In Haiti, technical and structural challenges (such as access to transportation infrastructure, credit, and processing facilities) and relational challenges (reliance on a single buyer/exporter, and market competition from international value chain interventions) present obstacles to the realization of a practical merger. In Ecuador, barriers to this realization include producer/associations’ inability to influence the locus of value creation, as well as challenges around influencing policy and value chain governance beyond the local/regional level. This dissertation concludes by elaborating on the conditions necessary for export-oriented value chains to achieve a practical merger and the types of food system transformations that practical mergers in export oriented value chains can stimulate.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International