Multifunctionality and agrarian transition in alternative agro-food production in the global South: The case of organic shrimp certification in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Processes of globalisation in the conventional food provision system have had widespread negative impacts on small-scale farmers. Yet, alternative food networks, which are characterised by more sustainable production/consumption practices and fairer trade relations, have increasingly been ‘going global’ and, in the process, have been integrating small-scale farms in the South. One such high-value export-led commodity is certified organic shrimp. International third-party certification schemes are becoming popular as a tool to verify the intangible attributes of such commodities. Using concepts of multifunctionality and agrarian change, this paper examines the implications of introducing an international environmental certification programme to a site where the ‘peasantry’ has been preserved and has limited integration in the global agro-food system. Drawing on a case study that examines the first certified organic shrimp production project in Vietnam, this paper concludes that the current movement towards post-productivism in the global North has potential to keep local farming practices in the global South by justifying the value of peasant-like production methods through international certification. As a result, the development path of agrarian transition might be reshaped into a form not necessarily pursuing industrialisation. This leads to the new interpretation of pre- and post-productivism beyond the North and South divide.