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Women and children benefit from the Fairtrade Premium investments

Categories: Articles:Development | Published: 24/05/2014 | Views: 1442
Research undertaken in Asia, Africa and Latin America by National Resources Institute (NRI) found that “women and children had particularly benefited from the Fairtrade Premium investments..." Voluntary sustainability standards have proliferated in recent years and grown in market sales, but evidence on their poverty impact has been lacking. The purpose of this study is to “systematically examine the impact of voluntary social and environmental standards on poverty and livelihoods, particularly for the most disadvantaged workers and producers in developing countries”.

This report presents the findings from a four year study (funded by DFID, 2009-2013). The study is an impact evaluation which covers multiple organisations (estates and smallholder producer organisations) in four countries. The study employs a theory-based evaluation and comparative case oriented design. It employs both generative causation and counterfactual logics to understand causality and utilises a mix of methods. The study covers a number of sustainability standards, principally Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. Five cases were included, namely: Ecuador-smallholder-cocoa; Ghana-smallholder-cocoa; Kenya-smallholder-tea; Kenya-hired labour-tea; India-hired labour-tea.

The voluntary sustainability standards landscape has evolved over time. From the early pioneers, such as Fairtrade, selling into niche markets, new standards have been developed and sales of certified products have grown. Consumer and private sector acceptance has grown leading to a huge growth in standards’ uptake and a move from niche to mainstream channels. Large retailers and brands have made commitments to sourcing mainstream product lines from sustainable producers. In some markets, market penetration has risen rapidly, but there is still a way to go before a tipping point is reached such that whole sectors and industries switch to certification. The main challenge for sustainability standards is how to scale up – to reach the next 10 to 30% of world production and more marginalized groups in rural society and to deepen impact so that it is more transformative of livelihoods. The broader context is of rural transition in developing countries and the multiple demands which are being placed on agriculture (global food security, tackling inequality and generating employment, adapting to and mitigating climate change and environmental degradation etc). Read the report here

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