Are Sustainable Coffee Certifications Enough to Secure Farmer Livelihoods: The Millenium Development Goals and Nicaragua's Fair Trade Cooperatives
In December 2001, green coffee commodity prices hit a 30-year low. This deepened the livelihood crisis for millions of coffee farmers and rural communities. The specialty coffee industry responded by scaling up several sustainable coffee certification programs, including Fair Trade. This study uses household- and community-level research conducted in Nicaragua from 2000 to 2006 to assess the response to the post-1999 coffee crisis.
A participatory action research team surveyed 177 households selling into conventional and Fair Trade markets in 2006. In an effort to dialogue with specialty coffee industry and mainstream development agencies, results are framed within the context of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Findings suggest that households connected to Fair Trade cooperatives experienced several positive impacts in education, infrastructure investment, and monetary savings. However, several important livelihoods insecurities, including low incomes, high emigration, and food insecurity, persisted among all small-scale producers.