Providing small producers with better Fairtrade tools
Following an extensive review of the Generic Fairtrade Standards for Small Producers’ Organizations, a revised standard comes into force on 1 January, 2009. These revised standards are clearer, stream-lined and give small farmers more control over improving their livelihood.
Small producers can seek Fairtrade certification if they have formed an organization (such as a cooperative), which is able to help the development of their members and their communities. The organization should be democratically controlled by the members. These small producers’ organizations are Fairtrade certified through an audit against the requirements in the Generic Fairtrade Standards for Small Producers’ Organizations.
In order to be clearer on whom these standards benefit, the revised document has a more comprehensive definition of small producers. A small producer is generally defined through the following criteria: most of the work on the farm is done by the producer and the producer’s family; the producer spends most of his/her time working on his/her farm and the majority of the producer’s earnings must come from his/her agricultural activities. The revised standards also define the difference between those small farmers cultivating highly labour dependent products (such as bananas and tea) and not highly labour dependent products (such as coffee and honey).
Fairtrade certified producers have asked that the Fairtrade standards be adapted to their needs. While the underlying principles continue to be applied universally, the revised standards have moved away from a “one size fits all” approach. The standards now ask producers to prepare their own development plans based on their own needs assessment. The goals and indicators for measuring progress are then also designed by the producers themselves.
To respond to the need for an adaptable tool for ensuring that workers’ needs (in a small producers’ environment) are taken into account, the revised standards introduce an employment policy. The requirement is that of carrying out an assessment on how to improve the working conditions of both the workers employed by the small producers’ organization and any workers employed by individual members of the organization, including migrant workers.
The revised standards for small producers’ are a result of extensive research and consultations. This included two public hearings and several workshops with stakeholders. The revised version of the standards becomes applicable from 1 January, 2009. For producer organizations certified against the previous version, the latest deadline for compliance with all requirements, except the new progress requirements, is 1 April, 2009.
FLO is confident that the introduction of these revised Generic Fairtrade Standards for Small Producers’ Organizations will give small-scale farmers the opportunity to improve their position and secure their livelihoods for a better future.
 The scope of the generic standards’ revision includes the sections on social development, economic development and labour conditions. The section on environmental protection will be reviewed in 2009.
 The problems experienced by producers and workers in developing countries differ greatly. To address these realities there are two sets of Fairtrade Generic Standards, one for Small Producers’ Organizations and one for Hired Labour situations.