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Does Sustainability Certification has an Impact on Agro-based Industries? A Case from Sri Lanka's Tea Sector

Perera, P. (2018) Does Sustainability Certification has an Impact on Agro-based Industries? A Case from Sri Lanka's Tea Sector. In: International Conference on Industrial Impacts on Environment and Sustainable Development (IESD 2018), 15 - 16 April 2018, Keonjhar, Odisha, India.



Sustainability certification systems are being increasingly accepted in the global food sector because of the concerns over environmental and social production conditions are linked to health concerns in the day to day food choices of consumers. Sustainable Agriculture Certification (SAN) of farmlands has gained momentum as a potential means of value addition to take advantage of the emerging markets for agricultural products produced in environmentally and socially responsible manner. However, the actual impact of certification on croplands is often questioned. This study was conducted focusing 19 SAN certified tea plantation companies to assess the impact of the certification on the overall production process, final product, work force as well as the natural environment. With regard to the entities selected, the study shows that the SAN certification resulted in positive impacts on all socio-environmental aspects evaluated; workers" health and safety, professional training, pesticide handling and reduction, natural resources conservation and relationship with the community. Although the direct economic benefits of certification are not obvious, there is a general perception that that benefits of certification greatly outweigh the costs. As such, SAN certification should not be viewed only as a marketing tool to find price premiums. Other benefits of certification such as cost savings through improved production and processing, increasing overall efficiency through better management, deflecting a negative image of the industry, and contributing to environmental protection should be effectively communicated.

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