Fairtrade International (FLO) has published ‘Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade 2012’, a compendium of data and summaries of key research exploring the impacts of Fairtrade. The report highlights the importance of small farmer organisations in the Fairtrade system. This year’s report also provides the results of recent research studies containing evidence about the longer-term impacts of Fairtrade. Some key findings include:
- By the end of 2011, the total number of small-scale farmers in the Fairtrade system reached 1.24 million with a 26% increase in sales revenues on Fairtrade terms. Roughly 60% of the farmers and workers in the Fairtrade system are located in Africa and the Middle East.
- Analysis of how producer organisations use their Fairtrade Premium shows that Fairtrade producers are continuing to invest significantly in improvements to their organizations and businesses. Investments in processing, productivity, quality improvements, and in organizational strengthening this year accounted for more than half of the Fairtrade Premium expenditure that was reported by small producer organizations.
- Tea and sports balls producers continued to struggle to sell a significant percentage of their total output as Fairtrade, while hired labour organisations as a whole only sold around 20% of their total production as Fairtrade in 2011.
- An impact study found that one of the ways in which Fairtrade contributes most strongly to rural development is by giving farmers and workers a unique opportunity to plan, design, and implement development projects for their communities through participatory decision-making processes. Fairtrade also has a positive impact on certified organisations and their communities by building technical and organisational capacities. The study also noted higher productivity and income levels among members of Fairtrade certified producer organisations, as well as an increased level of investment. Furthermore, the study associated better livelihoods, working conditions and increased control over supply chains with Fairtrade certification.
- Although Fairtrade may introduce helpful institutions—such as gender committees—within producer organisations, many producer organisations still struggle to overcome existing cultural barriers toward a more balanced or equitable participation of men and women within the organization or the community, or towards girls’ education.
- The study found that the impact of Fairtrade varies greatly between different products and regions. The evidence that Fairtrade has had impacts on regional or national development was strongest from the banana and coffee case studies, where investments in local infrastructure were found to have had a major impact on regional development.
To access the report, click here. If anyone has comments or views on the effectiveness of Fairtrade or indeed any other certification schemes, we’d be interested in your views. Please do comment in the comments box under this entry (you will need to be logged in).
For a very useful assessment of the effectiveness of certification schemes in general (including Fairtrade) see here.
For more Fairtrade related information on the FCRN website see here.