Rural labourers loading certified cocoa onto a lorry in Côte d’Ivoire.
Photos: Jorge Sellare

02.09.2019

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A research study in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire shows that Fairtrade certification benefits farmers and employees of agricultural cooperatives. But what about hired labourers working on smallholder farms? Our authors argue that clearer Fairtrade labour standards for farm workers and better monitoring are required to implement the fairness model more comprehensively.

 When consumers of cocoa, coffee or bananas decide to purchase products with the Fairtrade label (see article Sustainability standards, traceability and certification), they pay a certain premium, expecting to help improve the socio-economic conditions of farmers and agricultural labourers in developing countries. Many studies looked at the effects of Fairtrade certification on smallholder farmers or on labourers in the plantations and factories of large agribusiness companies. Although hired labourers working in the small farm sector form a large group, the effects that Fairtrade has on them have rarely been analysed. Typically, these small farm labourers belong to the poorest of the poor in rural areas. Nevertheless, they are often neglected by development initiatives, which may partly be due to the false assumption that smallholder farms only operate with family labour. In reality, most of these farms also hire outside labourers for cultivation and harvesting, especially for labour-intensive cash crops. We carried out a recent study in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire in order to better understand the effects of Fairtrade on smallholder farmers and different types of rural labourers.

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