Agrifood supply chain, private-sector standards, and farmers' health: evidence from Kenya


  • Solomon Asfaw,

    Corresponding author
    1. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), PO Box 39063-00623 Nairobi, Kenya
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  • Dagmar Mithöfer,

    1. World Agro-Forestry Centre UN Avenue, Gigiri PO. Box, 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya, Formerly Icipe-International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya
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  • Hermann Waibel

    1. Leibniz University of Hannover, Institute of Development and Agricultural Economics, Königsworther Platz 1, 30167 Hannover, Germany
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Corresponding author. Tel.: +254207224551; fax: +254207224001.
E-mail address: (S. Asfaw).


This article evaluates the impact of adoption of European Union (EU) private-sector standards on farmers' health in rural Kenya. The study utilizes cross-sectional farm household-level data collected in 2006 from a randomly selected sample of 439 small-scale export farmers. We estimate the casual impact by utilizing a two-stage Poisson regression model, two-stage standard treatment effect model, as well as by regression based on propensity score, to assess the robustness of the results. Using these techniques, we demonstrate that the pesticide-ascribed incidence of acute illness symptoms and the associated cost of illness significantly decrease with the adoption of standards. Ceteris paribus, farmers who adopt standards experience 70% lesser incidence of acute illness and spent about 50–60% less on restoring their health than nonadopters. Although standards can potentially prevent resource-poor smallholders from maintaining their position in lucrative export markets, they can also result in positive changes in the health of those farmers who do adopt them, as shown by these results. This implies that, if adopted on a large scale, standards may reduce production externalities, corroborating the view that they may serve as a catalyst to transform production systems in developing countries.