Economist: Not so fair trade
BUYING ‘Fairtrade’ coffee is not really helping the very poor, new research suggests. By comparing living standards in Fairtrade-certified producing areas in Ethiopia and Uganda with similar non-Fairtrade regions, four development economists from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London found that Fair Trade agricultural workers often earned lower incomes.
After four years of fieldwork in the coffee, tea and flower sectors in Ethiopia and Uganda, where they gathered 1,700 survey responses and conducted more than 100 interviews, the SOAS researchers found people living in ordinary rural communities enjoyed a higher standard of living than seasonal and casual agricultural workers who received an apparently subsidised wage for producing Fairtrade exports. Women’s wages were especially low among producers selling into Fairtrade markets, according to the researchers. ...
... PS: The Fairtrade Foundation has published a lengthy reply: "We note the innovative methodology and large sample size that SOAS’s research project has used to answer its three research questions, only one of which focuses on Fairtrade. We also note however that the study has not sought to evaluate the impact of Fairtrade’s model and interventions as it has not followed an impact evaluation methodology."