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New study finds Fairtrade enhances farmer resilience and sustainability amid global crises

In times of global crisis, farmers who are part of Fairtrade certified producer organizations benefit from more robust and sustainable farming households, specifically in the areas of economic resilience, social wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and good governance of their cooperatives, a new study published today has revealed.

The report, titled Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade on Poverty Reduction and Economic Resilience through Rural Development and jointly released by Fairtrade Germany and Fairtrade Austria and implemented by Mainlevel Consulting, finds that Fairtrade Standards, Fairtrade pricing, and producer support programmes positively impact certified farmers and their communities when compared to non-Fairtrade certified farmers, particularly in times of difficulty and distress.

During the study, researchers examined the same producer organizations three times over the past decade, gaining valuable insights into the changing conditions and perspectives of Fairtrade farmers. The Fairtrade cooperatives included in the research – a cocoa cooperative from Ghana, a coffee cooperative and three banana cooperatives from Peru – were analysed alongside non-Fairtrade counterparts of similar size and location to isolate the effects of Fairtrade as compared to other external factors.

The research finds improvements in farming households’ financial situations, such as increased earnings, stronger safety nets, and boosted savings. In one specific instance, coffee farmer members of the Fairtrade certified La Florida cooperative in Peru reported earning incomes 50 percent higher than those of non-Fairtrade farmers.

“In times of crisis, it becomes evident that Fairtrade enhances farmers’ economic resilience and supports them in continuing their profession in challenging times,” said Tatjana Mauthofer, researcher at Mainlevel Consulting and co-author of the study. “The study shows that the two Fairtrade mechanisms – the Minimum Price and the Premium - represent a crucial safety net for farmers, their small producer organizations and eventually, also their communities.”

Fairtrade: An ‘uptick’ in benefits
According to the report, Fairtrade’s positive impact on certified farmers goes beyond economic well-being. Fairtrade cooperatives emerged stronger in good governance, with elements like transparency and democratic decision-making standing out. The researchers also note that good governance makes sustainability possible, as cooperatives must make and carry out decisions related to environmental, social, and economic spheres.

Fairtrade farmers also registered an uptick in benefits across social wellbeing indicators, including gender equality and workplace safety and health, when compared with their non-Fairtrade counterparts. Women in Fairtrade cooperatives, for instance, showed more confidence in speaking up and voicing their thoughts. In one focus group discussion cited by the study, Fairtrade certified Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farmers in Ghana made clear that the decision-making power for women Fairtrade producers had improved over the last four years. Similar advantages were noted on health-related issues. The more well-established banana cooperatives, for instance, used their Fairtrade Premium funds to provide health services and trainings, including on COVID-19 safety measures.


For more information: press@fairtrade.net


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