Sustainable food systems and impacts on market participants in global value chains

A growing world population, international crises and accelerating climate change are threatening global food security. Increasing agricultural productivity and reducing poverty without further damaging the environment are therefore among the most important development challenges of this century. Standards and labels that provide additional information about products are intended to help make more sustainable choices. This dissertation uses data from German consumers, Ghanaian palm oil smallholders and palm oil using companies to form a holistic understanding of international palm oil food systems.

Preferences and willingness to pay for sustainability indicators on products containing palm oil are analyzed. The results of the dissertation reveal that factual information increases consumers' willingness to pay and reinforces the awareness of sustainability indicators. Organic palm oil is ranked highest, making organic certification the most promising attribute for the promotion of sustainable palm oil. The study analyzes the impact of RSPO and organic certification on smallholders’ welfare, food security and the environment in palm oil producing regions of Ghana. The empirical results show that certifications have a positive impact on farmers' welfare and the environment, with smallholders and the environment tending to benefit more from organic certification than from RSPO certification. Furthermore, the dissertation addresses the problem that the palm oil sector is facing large yield gaps. The results provide evidence that the certification systems have an overall negative impact on crop yields, while improving net household incomes. The results suggest that appropriate extension services and learning improved management practices effectively reduce yield losses among certified farmers. It can be observed that the achievement of sustainability goals is closely linked to the reduction of inequality.


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