Fairtrade certification and producer resilience in times of crises

Published: 18 Oct 2022


Small-scale farmers are increasingly faced with three concurrent crises: (1) COVID-19, (2) climate change, and (3) financial crises, including inflation affecting both farm and household expenses and falling commodity prices. In this context, resilience is more vital than ever to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

This raises the question, ‘How does Fairtrade certification contribute to producers’ resilience’? Researchers from Scio Network and Athena Infonomics evaluated the resilience of producer organizations using COVID-19 as a case study. The research team analysed evidence from literature reviews, global surveys, and case studies (bananas from Peru, coffee from Indonesia, and flowers from Kenya). The study uses the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) framework which includes four components: good governance, social wellbeing, economic resilience, and environmental integrity.

Key findings include that on average, households from Fairtrade certified producer organizations were less affected by COVID-19 than those at non-Fairtrade certified producer organizations (36% versus 48% respectively). In addition, Fairtrade households were, on average, more resilient than those from non-Fairtrade certified producer organizations. Specifically, Fairtrade is associated with a higher social wellbeing of households (65% score for Fairtrade versus 47% for non-Fairtrade), and greater economic resilience (61% versus 55%). The study also identifies factors that relieved some of the burden of the pandemic on producer organizations and households, including financial sustainability, the price received by producer organizations, and access to credit, among others.

The research was commissioned by Fairtrade International through funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

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