Impacts of fair trade certification on coffee farmers, cooperatives, and laborers in Nicaragua
This paper analyzes the possibilities and challenges of Fair Trade certification as a movement seeking to improve the well-being of small-scale coffee growers and coffee laborers in the global South.
Six months of fieldwork was conducted in 2005–2006 to study the roles of a wide range of farmers, laborers, cooperative administrators, and export companies in Fair Trade coffee production and trade in Nicaragua. The results of our evaluation of the ability of Fair Trade to meet its objectives indicate that Fair Trade’s opportunities to provide a significant price premium for participating farmers largely depend on world coffee prices in mainstream markets. While Fair Trade has promoted premiums for social development for participating producers and strengthened the institutional capacities of the cooperatives involved, its ability to enhance significantly the working conditions of hired coffee laborers remains limited.