Chapter 21: Fair trade and development in African agriculture
Fairtrade is increasingly significant in Africa and Africa is increasingly significant for Fairtrade, especially in terms of the numbers of producers and workers who are members of or work for producer organizations certified by Fairtrade International. Over half of the farmers certified according to Fairtrade International standards are in Africa (62 per cent) and nearly half of all workers employed by Fairtrade certified organizations are in Africa (41 per cent) (Fairtrade International 2012, 18). The high numbers of workers in African Fairtrade reflect the significance of the hired labor model for particular commodities that are key to Fairtrade in Africa, particularly flowers (37500 workers) and wine grapes (4400 workers), but also for tea (where there are proportionately more small-scale farmers involved but the most hired workers globally, at 97700) (Fairtrade International 2012, 25). In this chapter I explore the diverse experiences that small-scale producers and workers have in engaging with the Fairtrade system by highlighting the territorial specificity of how Fairtrade is embedded in local contexts across Africa (Loconto and Simbua 2012; Nelson and Martin 2012). I examine cooperatives dating from the colonial period and chart the process of economic and political liberalization over recent decades. I highlight how this has both facilitated fair trade opportunities and presented challenges. I also discuss the experience of the hired labor model, noting its inter-relation with small-scale production in some sectors, and examine how employment on Fairtrade farms affects women.
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