This research examines the structure and development of the organic sesame network from Burkina Faso to explain the declining trend in organic sesame export. The paper addresses particularly the question whether the organic sesame network is structurally (re)shaped as a conventional mainstream market or whether it still presents a real alternative to conventional sesame production and trade. It is found that over the last decade organic sesame is increasingly incorporated into mainstream market channels. But contrary to the well-known case of conventionalization in California, where organic agriculture grew into mainstream agro-food arrangements, this study illustrates a case where organic sesame agriculture shrank into mainstream agro-food rrangements. The weak coherence between the production and marketing nodes in the organic sesame chain resulted in failures to vertically mediate information, balance power relationships in and across sesame chains, build trust, and limit price volatility and speculation, resulting in a shrinking organic sesame market. For developing a viable alternative to conventional sesame trading, relations between production and trading nodes in the organic networks need to be strengthened through public–private partnerships, combined with other public and legal reinforcement.
- alternative food networks