Empirical assessments of the impacts of Fairtrade certification environmental standards are lacking. This paper examines the effects of Fairtrade certification on agricultural practices through the case of coffee in Rwanda, comparing Fairtrade certified cooperative farmers with non-certified cooperative farmers and farmers who do not belong to a cooperative. Survey data from 175 smallholder coffee farmers in Rwanda are reported and analyzed using logistic regression. The results indicate the importance of cooperative farmer organizations in influencing agricultural practices via opportunities for training and access to inputs, and suggest that Fairtrade certification may in fact provide additional opportunities above and beyond cooperative producer organization that influence farmer agricultural practices. However, counter to expectations, Fairtrade certification does not have a strong overall effect on agricultural practices. The effectiveness of Fairtrade at shifting agricultural practices appears to depend on the national regulatory context and the availability of alternative practices.

Journal of rural studiesVolume 32, October 2013, Pages 264–274

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