The Politics of Fairtrade Sugar in Belize: Fairer for Whom?

Escalante, Julio (2013) The Politics of Fairtrade Sugar in Belize: Fairer for Whom? Technical Report.

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    From 2006, the guaranteed prices that the European Union (EU) paid to former British colonies for their sugar exports were first reduced and then abruptly ended. This system was known as the Sugar Protocol and its annulment has transformed the international sugar trade, especially for those African, Pacific and Caribbean countries who were part of the original agreement. For Belize, the certification of their independent cane farmers by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation was seen as one way to target 'value added' luxury markets instead of undifferentiated and more volatile bulk markets. An agreement was made with Tate & Lyle in 2008 under which the company would refine raw sugar from Belize and transfer a premium to cane farmers as a condition of using the Fairtrade label. At the time, this was the biggest Fairtrade commitment undertaken by any corporation in the world. Based on fieldwork undertaken in Belize during 2010 and 2012 as part of a doctoral thesis on sugar industry adaptation, this report asks about the difference Fairtrade certification has made to the livelihoods of the 6,000 cane farmers. Two areas have dominated the spending of Fairtrade premium: environmental management in the field and basic service provision in the cane-growing communities. The Fairtrade organization has had a strong influence in determining this agenda and has introduced new initiatives like a pest control systems and rehabilitation of education facilities. Yet cane farmers remain unconvinced that this is really benefitting them, as some of their costs have increased as a result of new agrochemical requirements and the community projects have not addressed their own immediate needs. Perhaps the greated difference made by Fairtrade has been reform to the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association, which was briefly decertified for mismanagement of the Fairtrade premium, although again,some cane farmers still allege that self-serving interest are at work. In short, while Fairtrade brings benefits, they are insufficient in stabilizing precarious livelihoods when understood in their broader economic context.

    Item Type: Technical Reports (Technical Report)
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Ethical Sugar
      Subjects: (Z) Other or Unspecified
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3D) Other or Unspecified
      Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2014 08:53
      Last Modified: 12 Mar 2014 08:53

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