Standards are used to govern an increasing share of global food trade, and have been interpreted by academics both as market access barriers and opportunities for low-income country producers, exporters and workers. Donors have mostly chosen to treat them as opportunities and today finance a variety of programmes and projects aimed at supporting standards development and conformity. This article contributes to the critical literature discussing the challenges and potentials of standards conformity and supplies policy recommendations for future interventions. It reports the results of a research programme on standards conformity in East Africa. These demonstrate that most interventions underestimate the nature of the challenges faced and that significant impacts are achieved only under rather restricted conditions. The solutions lay not only in more selective support to standard development and better-informed interventions, but also to focus more squarely on supply capacity and welfare outcomes in project planning.
- Standards conformity
- development assistance