South African citrus farmers' perceptions of the benefits and costs of compliance with private sector certification schemes for citrus exports.
Ndlovu, P. G.
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The main objective of this study was to analyse South African (SA) citrus farmers’ perceptions of the benefits and costs of complying with quality assurance (QA) certification schemes for citrus exports to the European Union (EU). The study used an e-mail and postal survey questionnaire mailed to a stratified random sample of 260 SA commercial citrus growers during July 2007. The survey yielded 108 usable responses - a response rate of 10.8% from the target population of 1001 commercial SA citrus growers. The main factors motivating respondents to adopt QA certification were to keep and maintain access to existing markets; to improve customer confidence in their products; to access new markets; and to meet food safety and retailer requirements. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) identified six underlying dimensions of motivators, which suggest a drive by sampled respondents to gain certification to meet market requirements, achieve intra-farm benefits such as cost-reduction, and to remain competitive in existing and new foreign markets. The sampled respondents identified the main internal benefits from QA certification as the ability to retain existing markets; improved worker health and safety; better access to foreign markets; better farm organisation; and improved fruit safety and orchard management. The PCA identified six broad dimensions of these internal benefits. Comparing the motivator and perceived benefit dimensions, most of the motivators seem to have been in part realised by the respondents. Respondents rated shared goals and values about the product; more joint decision making on fruit safety; more working together on quality assurance; a better business working relationship; improved coordination; and improved trust as the six major supply chain benefits from QA certification. The two dimensions identified from these external benefits by PCA were: (1) Improved working relationship and product quality benefits, and (2) Improved cooperation and contractual benefits. The major costs of implementing EUREPGAP certification related to initial investment costs and the recurrent annual costs of compliance. The respondents, on average, spent an estimated R70655 on initial compliance costs, mainly for infrastructure, additional buildings and employees training. Some 60% of respondents spent less than 1% of annual farm turnover on initial compliance costs, while most of the respondents (84%) spent less than 1% of annual farm turnover on recurrent costs of compliance. Growers that owned a pack-house had statistically significantly higher initial and annual costs of compliance. Most (63%) of the respondents had a relatively high level of overall satisfaction with QA certification. The second objective of this study was to analyse the determinants of SA citrus farmers’ overall level of satisfaction with QA certification. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression estimated that perceived dimensions of internal benefits, namely (1) Foreign market access benefits; (2) Intra-farm benefits; (3) Improved fruit safety and orchard management; (4) Quality and worker welfare benefits; and (5) Ability to retain existing markets, all had a statistically significant positive influence on the sampled growers’ overall level of satisfaction with QA certification. Supply chain benefits also had a positive effect on overall level of satisfaction, although the effects were not statistically significant. Similarly, no statistically significant relationship could be established between farm size or the respondents’ level of satisfaction with their certifying agents and their overall level of satisfaction with QA certification. Record keeping is required by nearly all EUREPGAP control chapters and for farm audits. Crop protection is also perceived as a complex requirement of the EUREPGAP protocol. Policymakers thus need to be aware of the extra costs that protocols create for management. The Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) could consider providing more extension advice to farmers on the technical requirements of certification (particularly best practices for implementing the control chapters). Comparing the motivator and perceived benefit dimensions, most of the motivators for QA certification seem to have been in part realised by the respondents. For instance, the drivers to improve business image/market competitiveness/market access requirements/farm profitability were realised via perceived reputation/input cost savings/foreign market and profit improvement benefits. The study results, therefore, provide some evidence that QA certification is a necessary strategy for maintaining competitiveness in EU citrus markets.
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