Earning a decent livelihood is a human right. A living income is central to sustainability – farmers must be able to support their families while farming in a way that protects and replenishes the planet and their communities.
A living income is defined as sufficient income to afford a decent standard
of living for all household members – including a nutritious diet, clean water,
decent housing, education, health care and other essential needs, plus a little
extra for emergencies and savings – once farm costs are covered.
Just being Fairtrade certified doesn’t guarantee that farmers will earn a
living income – it depends on multiple factors, and on everyone playing their
part, from farmers, to cooperatives, to businesses, governments, and shoppers.
This is why our living income strategy outlines
what needs to be done beyond business as usual and identifies key
responsibilities to make this happen. Fairtrade is committed to discover what
really works o improve farmers’ incomes and to sharing what we learn along the
How Fairtrade works towards living incomes
Reaching a living income requires the farm producing enough, and the farmer
being paid a price that reflects the true cost of sustainable farming. Other
income-generating activities are often necessary to reduce risk, and make up
additional income needed to make up for a very small farm plot size, or a large
household, for instance. For specific regions and commodities we have also developed the Fairtrade Living Income Reference Prices to give further guidance.
Our living income strategy focuses on six interdependent areas:
At their core, Fairtrade Standards specify requirements that contribute to improving farmer incomes. New requirements are also considered to be added based on the results of past projects on this area.
Going beyond the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium, we developed the concept of a Living Income Reference Price. This is the price a typical farmer household with a viable farm size and a sustainable productivity level needs in order to earn a living income from the sales of their crop.
Producer support programmes
Fairtrade’s three regional producer networks provide programmes and services that strengthen producer organisations to support their farmer members to improve their incomes. Relevant areas include:
Building entrepreneurial skills
Improving farm productivity and cost efficiency
Increase resilience against climate and other shocks
You can take a look at the projects Fairtrade is running across the world here.
Customised business services
Beyond Fairtrade certification, industry partners who want to go a step further in assuming their responsibility for living incomes can work with us to develop customised projects.
Monitoring, evaluation and learning
Close monitoring of farmers’ income improvement is crucial to learn what works best and build on successes. Collecting farm economic baseline data and assessing gaps to living incomes are key to designing appropriate strategies and establishing sustainable price levels.
Fairtrade advocates for ambitious policy regulation and sector commitments that set the bar high and will ensure real progress to living incomes. This “enabling environment” is crucial to bring about collective action by businesses so that living incomes can be achieved at scale.
Everyone has a role to play to make living incomes for farmers a reality. You too!
Farmers are primarily responsible for increasing farm productivity by using sustainable agricultural practices.
Producer organisations create value for their members, for instance delivering training to improve farming practices or diversify income sources, or reduce farmers’ out-of-pocket costs by providing subsidized inputs.
Companies are responsible for sustainable purchasing practices, including establishing long-term sourcing relations and paying prices to farmers that support a living income.
Policy makers can drive collective action on a large scale by putting in place laws and policies that require products to be grown or made sustainably – including that farmers are earning a living income.
Consumers have a choice every time they go to a store. They can always choose to support products which strive for a better and fair income for farmers. Fairtrade products are easily identifiable.
Contact us for more information on working with Fairtrade along the shared
path towards living incomes for farmers. It’s the right thing to do –
for farmers, for rural communities, and for a more just and sustainable world.