Fairtrade Effectiveness in Question

FairtradeFoundationLogoA four-year study financed by Britain’s Department for International Development revealed workers producing Fairtrade-certified coffee and tea in rural Ethiopia and Uganda are actually receiving less pay and experiencing worse working conditions than comparable workers on non-certified farms.

CTV News reported last week that researchers at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London spent four years studying rural labor markets in areas producing coffee, tea and flower crops for export.

“Careful fieldwork and analysis in this four-year-project leads to the conclusion that in our research sites, Fairtrade has not been an effective mechanism for improving the lives of wage workers, the poorest rural people,” said Christopher Cramer, economics professor at SOAS, and one of the study’s authors.

The Fairtrade Foundation is a U.K.-based charity, founded in 1992, to help producers in developing countries earn more for their products. A Foundation spokesperson pointed to flaws in the study, and criticized its “generalized conclusions.” The foundation told CTV News there is a growing body of evidence that has “documented Fairtrade’s contribution to a wide range of positive benefits for farmers and workers across regions and countries where we work.”

The study involved more than 1,000 days of field research and survey data on 1,700 respondents who exposed the often abysmal conditions of workers who pick the coffee beans, tea leaves, and flowers that make their way to stores in Europe and North America.

The report, titled “Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda,” looked at several factors contributing to poor working conditions including: wage differences, job duration and sexual harassment.

Source: CTV News

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