4. Ethical Agri-food Systems and Rural Development




Ethical Agri-food Systems and Rural Development

Ethical agri-food systems and rural development Poverty alleviation is placed as the first object in the SDGs as well as in the MDGs. Most impoverished people are peasants in the Global South. Accordingly, the SDGs put a high priority on rural development. However, it is difficult for peasants to get out of poverty under the current global agri-food system. Although Fair Trade (FT) has a potential to solve such difficulty by providing an alternative agri-food system, it has not developed its full potential, so far. One of the reasons for this is the small size of the FT market.

This is because FT products are unlikely to directly improve the utility of consumers. Therefore, we need the ethics (“economy of virtue” by Adam Smith), such as consumers’ awareness on social responsibility and sympathy for poor producers in the Global South. The establishment and expansion of ethical consumption for human rights, the environment, and justice can be seen as an embodiment of such ethics.

This research project aims at clarifying the achievements and challenges of rural development by ethical agri-food systems based on FT and ethical consumption (both of which are considered ethical transactions). In addition, we will adopt the viewpoint of food movements such as “right to food” and “food sovereignty” which are attracting attention in the Global North. This research project will reach three outcomes as follows:

  1. Clarifying the problems of the current agri-food systems and conditions for
    the establishment and expansion of the ethical agri-food systems,
  2. Identifying a pathway to integrative rural development, including poverty alleviation,
  3. Presenting the benefits of ethical agri-food systems, especially for consumers in “developed” countries, and the resulting expansion of the FT market.