Living income

Earning a decent livelihood is a human right. A living income is central to sustainability – farmers must be able to support their families while farming in a way that protects and replenishes the planet and their communities.

Living Income Project Côte d Ivoire

A living income is defined as sufficient income to afford a decent standard of living for all household members – including a nutritious diet, clean water, decent housing, education, health care and other essential needs, plus a little extra for emergencies and savings – once farm costs are covered.

Just being Fairtrade certified doesn’t guarantee that farmers will earn a living income – it depends on multiple factors, and on everyone playing their part, from farmers, to cooperatives, to businesses, governments, and shoppers.

This is why our living income strategy outlines what needs to be done beyond business as usual and identifies key responsibilities to make this happen. Fairtrade is committed to discover what really works o improve farmers’ incomes and to sharing what we learn along the way.

Read our latest Living Income Progress Report.

How Fairtrade works towards living incomes

Reaching a living income requires the farm producing enough, and the farmer being paid a price that reflects the true cost of sustainable farming. Other income-generating activities are often necessary to reduce risk, and make up additional income needed to make up for a very small farm plot size, or a large household, for instance. For specific regions and commodities we have also developed the Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices to give further guidance.

Our living income strategy focuses on six interdependent areas:


At their core, Fairtrade Standards specify requirements that contribute to improving farmer incomes. New requirements are also considered to be added based on the results of past projects on this area.

Sustainable pricing

Going beyond the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium, we developed the concept of a Living Income Reference Price. This is the price a typical farmer household with a viable farm size and a sustainable productivity level needs in order to earn a living income from the sales of their crop.

Producer support programmes

Fairtrade’s three regional producer networks provide programmes and services that strengthen producer organisations to support their farmer members to improve their incomes. Relevant areas include:

  • Building entrepreneurial skills
  • Improving farm productivity and cost efficiency
  • Increase resilience against climate and other shocks
  • Gender inclusion
  • Youth leadership

You can take a look at the projects Fairtrade is running across the world here.

Customised business services

Beyond Fairtrade certification, industry partners who want to go a step further in assuming their responsibility for living incomes can work with us to develop customised projects.

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Close monitoring of farmers’ income improvement is crucial to learn what works best and build on successes. Collecting farm economic baseline data and assessing gaps to living incomes are key to designing appropriate strategies and establishing sustainable price levels.


Fairtrade advocates for ambitious policy regulation and sector commitments that set the bar high and will ensure real progress to living incomes. This “enabling environment” is crucial to bring about collective action by businesses so that living incomes can be achieved at scale.

See a joint declaration from Ivorian cocoa producers on living incomes, following our producer-led summit in Abidjan in May 2023: available in English and French

See our November 2020 report on policy options for chocolate consuming countries to support progress toward living incomes for cocoa farmers.

Everyone has a role to play to make living incomes for farmers a reality. You too!

  • Farmers are primarily responsible for increasing farm productivity by using sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Producer organisations create value for their members, for instance delivering training to improve farming practices or diversify income sources, or reduce farmers’ out-of-pocket costs by providing subsidized inputs.
  • Companies are responsible for sustainable purchasing practices, including establishing long-term sourcing relations and paying prices to farmers that support a living income.
  • Policy makers can drive collective action on a large scale by putting in place laws and policies that require products to be grown or made sustainably – including that farmers are earning a living income.
  • Consumers have a choice every time they go to a store. They can always choose to support products which strive for a better and fair income for farmers. Fairtrade products are easily identifiable.

Watch this video to learn moreabout how these roles work together.

Contact us for more information on working with Fairtrade along the shared path towards living incomes for farmers. It’s the right thing to do – for farmers, for rural communities, and for a more just and sustainable world.

Additional resources

Fairtrade Living Income Progress report 2023

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Nicaragua (explanatory note in English, 2024)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Peru (explanatory note in English, 2024)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Cocoa from Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana (explanatory note in English, updated 2023 to reflect Côte d'Ivoire price in euros instead of dollars)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Ethiopia (explanatory note in English, 2023)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coconut from Sri Lanka (explanatory note in English, 2022)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Honduras (explanatory note in English, 2022)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Uganda (explanatory note in English, 2022)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Price for Coffee from Aceh, Indonesia (explanatory note in English, 2022)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices for Coffee: Colombia (2022) (explanatory note in English, updated 2022)

Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices for Coffee: Colombia (2021) (superceded version, 2021)

Propuesta Precio de Referencia Ingreso Digno Cafe Colombia (explanatory note in Spanish, 2021)

Q&A: Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices for coffee: Colombia (2021)

Fairtrade Living Income Strategy: In Brief

Living Income Community of Practice

Cocoa household income study (Côte d’Ivoire, 2021)

Cocoa household income study (Côte d’Ivoire, 2018)

Coffee household income study (various countries, 2017)

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