FAIR TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT: What are the Implications of Mainstreaming?

Ananya Mukherjee and Darryl Reed
Publication Date: 
A critical aspect of the current global crisis is the plight of small producers, particularly those operating in agrarian sectors. One initiative that seeks to address the situation of small agricultural producers is the certified Fair Trade (FT) network. Initially purporting to represent an alternative form of trade relations, FT certification offered members of small producer organizations higher prices for their produce than was available in the world market - as well as providing several other benefits (e.g., advance payments, a social premium for community development projects, technical assistance, long-term contracts, etc.).
In recent years, however, the FT network has come under sharp criticism for allowing increasingly indiscriminate participation by corporate actors in the network. This paper briefly examines the effect of corporate participation in fair trade and its implications for development.