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Impacts of Fair Trade certification on coffee farmers, cooperatives, and laborers in Nicaragua


  • Joni Valkila


  • Anja Nygren


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. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • Joni Valkila & Anja Nygren, 2010. "Impacts of Fair Trade certification on coffee farmers, cooperatives, and laborers in Nicaragua," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(3), pages 321-333, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:3:p:321-333
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9208-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kilian, Bernard & Jones, Connie & Pratt, Lawrence & Villalobos, Andres, 2006. "Is sustainable agriculture a viable strategy to improve farm income in Central America? A case study on coffee," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 322-330, March.
    2. Raynolds, Laura T., 2004. "The Globalization of Organic Agro-Food Networks," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 725-743, May.
    3. Ponte, Stefano, 2002. "The 'Latte Revolution'? Regulation, Markets and Consumption in the Global Coffee Chain," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1099-1122, July.
    4. Laura Raynolds & Douglas Murray & Andrew Heller, 2007. "Regulating sustainability in the coffee sector: A comparative analysis of third-party environmental and social certification initiatives," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 24(2), pages 147-163, June.
    5. Aimee Shreck, 2005. "Resistance, redistribution, and power in the Fair Trade banana initiative," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(1), pages 17-29, March.
    6. Muradian, Roldan & Pelupessy, Wim, 2005. "Governing the coffee chain: The role of voluntary regulatory Systems," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2029-2044, December.
    7. Taylor, Peter Leigh, 2005. "In the Market But Not of It: Fair Trade Coffee and Forest Stewardship Council Certification as Market-Based Social Change," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 129-147, January.
    8. Laura T. Raynolds & Douglas Murray & Peter Leigh Taylor, 2004. "Fair trade coffee: building producer capacity via global networks," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(8), pages 1109-1121.
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    Cited by:

    1. Herzfeld, Thomas & Drescher, Larissa S. & Grebitus, Carola, 2011. "Cross-national adoption of private food quality standards," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 401-411.
    2. repec:eee:wdevel:v:102:y:2018:i:c:p:195-212 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Chiputwa, Brian & Spielman, David J. & Qaim, Matin, 2015. "Food Standards, Certification, and Poverty among Coffee Farmers in Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 400-412.
    4. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:231-242 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gingrich, Chris D. & King, Emily J., 2012. "Does Fair Trade Fulfill the Claims of its Proponents? Measuring the Global Impact of Fair Trade on Participating Coffee Farmers," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 26.
    6. Parvathi, Priyanka & Waibel, Hermann, 2016. "Organic Agriculture and Fair Trade: A Happy Marriage? A Case Study of Certified Smallholder Black Pepper Farmers in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 206-220.
    7. Parvathi, Priyanka & Waibel, Hermann, 0. "Adoption and Impact of Black Pepper Certification in India," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, vol. 54.
    8. Verena Bitzer & Pieter Glasbergen & Bas Arts, 2013. "Exploring the potential of intersectoral partnerships to improve the position of farmers in global agrifood chains: findings from the coffee sector in Peru," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(1), pages 5-20, March.
    9. Fikadu Mitiku & Yann de Mey & Jan Nyssen & Miet Maertens, 2017. "Do Private Sustainability Standards Contribute to Income Growth and Poverty Alleviation? A Comparison of Different Coffee Certification Schemes in Ethiopia," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-21, February.
    10. van Rijsbergen, Bart & Elbers, Willem & Ruben, Ruerd & Njuguna, Samuel N., 2016. "The Ambivalent Impact of Coffee Certification on Farmers’ Welfare: A Matched Panel Approach for Cooperatives in Central Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 277-292.
    11. Krumbiegel, Katharina & Maertens, Miet & Wollni, Meike, 2018. "The Role of Fairtrade Certification for Wages and Job Satisfaction of Plantation Workers," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 195-212.
    12. Mitiku, Fikadu & de Mey, Yann & Nyssen, Jan & Maertens, Miet, 2017. "Do Private Sustainability Standards Contribute to Poverty Alleviation? A Comparison of Different Coffee Certification Schemes in Ethiopia," Working Papers 253589, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics.


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