Who is Fairtrade for? Critical Reflections on Producer Experiences
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Tuesday 04 July 2017
12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
Dr Agatha Herman, Cardiff University
Fairtrade was originally established with the aim of supporting small-producers to access markets through long-term, ‘fairly priced’, transparent and democratic relations. Mainstreaming has resulted in the influx of large corporations and plantation-style agriculture, which in turn has led to critiques around governance and fetishism. In this paper, I ask who exactly is the subject of the contemporary Fairtrade movement? I draw on original empirical material from across South Africa, Argentina and Chile to outline and analyse the experiences of farmer-owners, farmworkers and small producers, who represent three key stakeholder groups in Fairtrade production systems. Through a focus on the wine industry, I argue that all three are in equivocal and relatively disempowering situations. While there are developmental benefits, these are made ambiguous by struggles with the markets and standards, the lack of a culture of association, ongoing paternalism and limited business experience. I conclude with reflections on the ongoing, and unequal, social and power relations within Fairtrade commodity networks, and recommendations for how these can be made more equitable.
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