This research project assesses the impact of Fairtrade on cotton producers and their organisations in Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and India. A Producer Organisation (PO) from each country participated in the study. The study was jointly commissioned by Max Havelaar France and the Fairtrade Foundation, UK in 2010. The impact analysis forms the basis for a series of recommendations aimed at improving the Fairtrade system in favour of cotton producers, farm workers and their organisations and local communities.
Cotton is grown in more than 100 countries on about 2.5% of the global area of arable land, while cotton processing has shifted from developed to developing countries over the last decade. There are over 500 firms involved in the global cotton and textiles trade, but only thirteen of these handle around a quarter of world production. Cotton production is of critical importance to the economies of all four case study countries, particularly in terms of rural employment, but downward pressure on prices and rising costs of production are reducing returns to producers who do not always have many alternative sources of income.
Fairtrade can have a diverse range of impacts on individual producers, their households, organisations and communities, and more broadly on local and national development and the natural environment. This project looks at Fairtrade impacts on social difference and inequality, income, household standard of living and quality of life, strengthening of producer organisations, local and national development, and natural resources management and environmental impact.
The study was led by Valerie Nelson of the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich and Sally Smith of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). In each country a team of researchers were involved in carrying out the research:
Mali & Senegal: Laure Brun, Malick Ndiaye and Mamadou Amadou Sow (ENDA Pronat, Senegal) and Blane Harvey (IDS, University of Sussex)
India: Lalitha Narayanan with Ila Mehta and Rutwik Gandhe (Gujarat Institute of Development Research) and Czech Conroy (NRI, University of Greenwich)
Cameroon: Marthe Wandou (freelance consultant) and Cathy Mackenzie (freelance consultant and NRI associate)
The study has provided significant information to inform the Fairtrade movement as they seek ways to maximise their impact as well as being a resource to inform other interested stakeholders.
The research team's executive summary, the main report and annexes, and an official Fairtrade Foundation summary and response document are now available on the Fairtrade Foundation website. You can also click on the links below.
Project duration: 2010 - 2012