INCLUDE Platform

Productive employment in segmented markets

Productive Employment in the Segmented Markets of Fresh Produce

Consumers in Europe have learned to appreciate the quality of Kenya’s fresh agricultural produce over the last decade. The achievements of its horticulture sector, which engages over half a million farmers, are impressive and the country’s agricultural exports have reached US$1 billion annually. This success has been due to the emergence of modern, innovative and programmed production by farmers that are exporting directly to high-value markets and trading companies that meet Global Good Agricultural Practice (GlobalGAP) standards. At the same time, many smaller growers are serving the domestic market and/or selling to collectors and middlemen that cannot, or do not want to, adhere to global standards. The upshot of this is that the process of structural transformation is creating a modern (programmed) and a traditional (non-programmed) agricultural sector. How is this segmentation impacting on ‘productive’ employment in Kenya, for example, in terms of decent income levels, income stability, gender and working conditions? Are working conditions in the modern sector better? And what are the prospects for youth and women?

This project is focusing on avocado production, which now accounts for nearly two-thirds of Kenya’s fresh-fruit exports. Growing avocados that can be exported to GlobalGAP standards requires high-level skills, and growth in the modern and traditional segments of this sector has thus differed substantially. At the same time, however, international competition is emerging on the world market for avocados and one of the new competitors, namely Peru, will be studied for comparative purposes.

The project is using a mixed-methods approach including systematic review and expert interviews. This will provide new and important primary data that will be collected by means of two surveys (an avocado growers’ survey and a farm workers’ survey) in an attempt to reach the main local stakeholders. A participatory workplace appraisal (through focus groups) may also be included.

Knowledge sharing will take place at kick-off and final review workshops and through the Partnership for Economic Policy network with newsletters, video clips and policy briefs:

Watch a video pitch of the research group:

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  • Fresh-Produce and Exporters Association of Kenya
  • Partnership for Economic Policy
  • University of Amsterdam
  • VU University Amsterdam

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