Evaluative study on the contributions of Fairtrade towards driving change in the Mauritian sugar cane sector
Published: 21 Mar 2023
Fairtrade International commissioned Agricane Consulting Ltd. to conduct a study to evaluate the extent to which the adoption of Fairtrade Standards over the period of more than a decade has influenced change in the sugar cane landscape of Mauritius. The study collected data through 15 key informant interviews, 6 focus group discussions with 10 individuals per group, 210 household surveys, and interviews with buyers of Fairtrade sugar.
- Influence beyond certified organisations: Fairtrade has played a role in raising the awareness of climate change and the actions that can be taken by members of producer organisations to adapt and mitigate further negative environmental impacts. Fairtrade encouraged the sugar cane sector in the country to adopt better labour practices and management of chemicals.
- Fairtrade Premium as additional financial support during hard times: The subsidy of fertilisers and bio-fertilisers (75%), followed by provision of personal protective equipment and other field equipment (67%) were seen as among the most effective Fairtrade Premium uses.
- Acceleration of the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices and higher yields: The combined influence of the Fairtrade Standards, technical trainings, and Fairtrade Premium has enabled positive agriculture and environmental behaviour change across the certified producers. For instance, over 80% of certified respondents report an understanding of integrated pest management. Fifty-six percent of the certified producer organisation members reported improved crop yields as a result of implementing Fairtrade practices.
- Improvement in labour conditions and governance: In the last 10 years nearly all (93%) of members of certified producer organisations reported an improvement in the conditions for workers as opposed to just 40% of the non-certified farmers. Ninety-six percent of producer organisations reported an improvement in the overall governance and leadership of their boards because of Fairtrade interventions.
The study also documents ongoing challenges including the impact of climate change, lack of interest by young people in farming, less participation by women in producer organisations, and volatility in certification status for some producer organisations.