On Farm and Packhouse: Employment at the Bottom of the Global Value Chain

Publication Type: 
Journal Name: 
Volume: 
69
Number: 
1
Page Numbers: 
99-127
Month/Season: 
Published On: 
2004

The fresh vegetables commodity chain linking Kenyan producers with United Kingdom (UK) consumers employs significant numbers of workers in production and processing. This chain is dominated by UK retailers that determine the production imperatives of Kenyan firms upstream in the chain and, indirectly the employment strategies they adopt. This paper explores how competitive pressures are transmitted through the supply chain, and how exporters absorb these risks by placing greater emphasis on organizational flexibility and the elasticity of labor in horticultural production. The paper argues that while the industry provides substantial employment opportunities in Kenya, the commodity chain is dependent upon the “gendered” and insecure forms of employment it creates.