New study finds Fairtrade certification enhances farmer resilience

Fairtrade America

Fairtrade America has announced the results of a decade-long study, finding that farmers who are part of Fairtrade certified producer organisations experience better economic resilience, social wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and governance of their cooperatives.

Mainlevel Consulting implemented the study, titled Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade on Poverty Reduction and Economic Resilience through Rural Development. It reveals that Fairtrade standards, Fairtrade pricing and producer support programs positively impact certified farmers and their communities.

During the study, researchers evaluated specific producer organisations three times from 2012 to 2022, gaining valuable insights into the changing conditions and perspectives of Fairtrade farmers over time. The study specifically examined four areas of sustainability, including economic resilience, social wellbeing, good governance of farmer cooperatives, and environmental integrity.

Fairtrade farmer cooperatives in the research included a cocoa cooperative from Ghana, a coffee cooperative, and three banana cooperatives from Peru. They were analysed alongside non-Fairtrade organisations of similar size and location to isolate the effects of Fairtrade partnership from other external factors.

While the findings outline encouraging evidence of Fairtrade’s benefits, the study also presents the grim reality that farmers’ gains, regarding incomes and farm investments, have been undercut in recent years due to the challenges of COVID-19, climate change, and increasing costs of production.

“In times of crisis, it becomes evident that Fairtrade enhances farmers’ economic resilience and supports them in continuing their profession,” says Tatjana Mauthofer, researcher at Mainlevel Consulting and co-author of the study.

Fairtrade has already taken actionable steps, including paying farmers an extra US$1 per box of bananas in Fairtrade Premium and setting requirements that large scale banana farming operations pay their workers at least 70 per cent of their country’s living wage benchmark.

“We believe that everyone deserves a decent standard of living. It’s only fair to pay a price that covers basic needs and supports an existence worthy of human dignity,” says Peg Willingham, Executive Director of Fairtrade America.

“While it’s encouraging that this study emphasises how Fairtrade supports farmers and producer organizations in weathering these financial challenges, it warns that progress toward reducing poverty will be stalled, if not reversed, if farmers are not paid more.”

To learn more about the study, click here.

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