The rise of voluntary standards and their associated certification for agricultural products is a well-established phenomenon in the contemporary dynamics of agricultural trade. Supply chain management is increasingly influenced by a proliferation of standards, and by the organisations setting and monitoring them over a growing number of products. While the objectives of standards and certification schemes (CS) vary, the focus of this review is on social sustainability standards, which are closely related to ethical trading and to schemes that focus on socio-economic outcomes of participants, essentially agricultural producers (particularly smallholders) and wage workers, whether employed by corporate plantations or individual agricultural producers.
This systematic review addresses the extent to which, and under what conditions, CS for agricultural products result in higher levels of socio-economic wellbeing for agricultural producers and workers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The primary review question is:
What are the effects of certification schemes for sustainable agricultural production, and their associated interventions, in terms of endpoint socio-economic outcomes for household/individual wellbeing in low- and middle-income countries?
The subsidiary review question is:
Under what circumstances and why do certification schemes for agricultural commodities have the intended and/or unintended effects? What are the barriers and facilitators to such certification’s intended and/or unintended effects?