Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 321–333 | Cite as

Impacts of Fair Trade certification on coffee farmers, cooperatives, and laborers in Nicaragua

  • Joni Valkila
  • Anja Nygren


This paper analyzes the possibilities and challenges of Fair Trade certification as a movement seeking to improve the well-being of small-scale coffee growers and coffee laborers in the global South. Six months of fieldwork was conducted in 2005–2006 to study the roles of a wide range of farmers, laborers, cooperative administrators, and export companies in Fair Trade coffee production and trade in Nicaragua. The results of our evaluation of the ability of Fair Trade to meet its objectives indicate that Fair Trade’s opportunities to provide a significant price premium for participating farmers largely depend on world coffee prices in mainstream markets. While Fair Trade has promoted premiums for social development for participating producers and strengthened the institutional capacities of the cooperatives involved, its ability to enhance significantly the working conditions of hired coffee laborers remains limited.


Certification Coffee cooperatives Fair Trade Labor conditions Nicaragua Producers Social premium 



We are grateful to Nicaraguan coffee farmers, cooperative managers, and laborers for their valuable contributions to field research. Special thanks are owed to Mauricio Ruiz, Pedro Rojas, Juan de Dios Castigo, Santiago Dolmus, Fátima Ismael, and Merling Preza. We also thank Jeremy Gould, Pertti Haaparanta, Juhani Koponen, Wim Naude, Marie-Christine Renard, and the two anonymous reviewers of this journal for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. Funding for this research was provided by the Academy of Finland (Grant numbers 1107665 and 1124189) and the University of Helsinki.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Institute of Development StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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