Cultivating compliance: governance of North Indian organic basmati smallholders in a global value chain

S. Arora, N. Baan Hofman, V. Koshti, T. Ciarli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Focusing on a global value chain (GVC) for organic basmati rice, we study how farmers’ practices are governed through product and process standards, organic certification protocols, and contracts with buyer firms. We analyze how farmers’ entry into the GVC reconfigures their agencements (defined as heterogeneous arrangements of human and nonhuman agencies which are associated with each other). These reconfigurations entail the severance of some associations among procedural and material elements of the agencements and the formation of new associations, in order to produce cultivation practices that are accurately described by the GVC’s standards and protocols. Based on ethnography of two farmers in Uttarakhand, North India, we find that the same standards were enacted differently on the two farmers’ fields, producing variable degrees of (selective) compliance with the ‘official’ GVC standards. We argue that the disjuncture between the ‘official’ scripts of the standards and actual cultivation practices must be nurtured to allow farmers’ agencements to align their practices with local sociotechnical relations and farm ecology. Furthermore, we find that compliance and disjuncture were facilitated by many practices and associations that were officially ungoverned by the GVC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1912-1928
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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