The panel aims to explore the dynamics of accumulation and survival associated with agricultural export production through wage employment. The panel is particularly interested in papers with evidence on the impact of certification schemes on labour market dynamics and working conditions.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world are involved in producing agricultural commodities for export. Growth, stagnation or decline in agricultural commodity exports have serious implications for the dynamics of agrarian change and of local labour markets, generally for poor people in rural areas, and especially for casual wage workers who are affected by the dynamics of production and institutional change associated with particular commodities in concrete contexts. To protect agricultural producers, who face volatile global market prices, a range of new certification schemes and codes of practice has been devised. However, too little is known about the impact of these initiatives at the local level, especially for those at the bottom of the chain working as casual wage labourers. The panel has a special interest in understanding better the comparative benefits/disadvantages of different institutional arrangements for agricultural production for poor rural people needing access to wage employment. Fairtrade, in particular, and other certification schemes are based on claims that, directly or indirectly, they reduce poverty. However, there has been little research on the impact on the poorest households of certified production, relative to non-certified production, or on the living standards of women dependent on wage employment in agricultural commodity production. This is particularly the case for casual and seasonal wage labourers working for smallholders, who, contrary to conventional wisdom, employ substantial numbers of workers in labour-intensive farming for exports. The panel calls for papers that can contribute to fill these gaps.