Fairtrade works with 1,411 certified producer organizations across 73 countries and a range of product categories. Fairtrade producers are confronted with a myriad of challenges, including climate change, child and forced labour, low productivity, gender imbalances, and youth apathy towards agricultural work to name a few. To address these challenges and further increase the social, economic and environmental benefits of Fairtrade, we must increasingly deliver programmes focused on specific product categories and regions.

While a significant proportion of Fairtrade’s resources continue to be dedicated to our core certification advisory services, we are looking at increasing our investment in targeted, tailored producer interventions. We recognise there is much work to do here, in particular around building our network of partners on the ground to help drive this work, however, there has been some good progress, specifically in the fields of child labour and gender, and we are focused on increasing these efforts to maximise the positive impact on local communities.

Training and Field visits

As part of their services to members, the three Fairtrade producer networks — Fairtrade Africa, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC) and the Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP) — regularly provide training and field visits to producer organizations in their respective regions. The primary purpose of such interventions is to help Fairtrade-certified producer organizations meet Fairtrade standards and to provide them with operational support in areas such as organizational and financial strengthening.

During the past year, the number of producer organizations reached through field-based training or support provided by the producer networks varied by region. Fairtrade Africa reached 60 percent of producer organizations, CLAC 68 percent, and NAPP reached an estimated 80 percent. We are working proactively with the producer networks to increase this percentage year-on-year and also looking at ways of supplementing field work with remote support – using technology to further improve the assistance provided to producer organizations.

Progress in Programmes

Fairtrade and its members have developed programmes to address key challenges such as child and forced labour, gender inequality, youth, and climate change. This is the progress made over the past year as well as an assessment of the efforts still required to achieve our objectives.

Children, young people and vulnerable adults

Fifteen Fairtrade producer organizations across six product categories have self-governing due diligence risk assessment and response processes covering child and/or forced labour, including gender-based violence. These include relevant policies, procedures and operating internal control systems (ICS) to check for child and/or forced labour.

Under the Youth-Inclusive Community-Based Monitoring and Remediation (YICBMR) system, Fairtrade’s approach to combat child and/or forced labour, youth monitors (18 to 25 years old) are employed by small producer organizations (SPOs) as members of labour and well-being committees in nine countries. This system consists of a rights-based, inclusive approach that builds on the capacity of children and young people in and around producer organizations to contribute to the identification of and response to child and/or forced labour.

Read more about our approach to addressing child and/or forced labour.

Participation of women and young people

It is clear that a major effort is required to enhance the participation of women in producer organizations. In a recent survey, we identified that representation of women on SPO boards stood at just six percent.

One way to begin to achieve this is through awareness raising and training: last year 32 percent of participants in training delivered by Fairtrade Africa were women. Following the success of the Leadership Training and Women’s Empowerment School launched by the CLAC last year, Fairtrade Africa recently initiated the Women’s School of Leadership targeted at women cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. The programme focuses on financial acumen, negotiation, and decision-making, as well as improved awareness of gender equality, which will equip women with the skills needed to make a greater contribution to the businesses they represent.

The Women’s School of Leadership will be a good opportunity for us women to learn. I am looking forward to this programme changing my life. 

Kouame Ehui Edith, SCAEK cooperative member, a Fairtrade certified cocoa organization in Koboti, Côte d’Ivoire


Similar to women, youth participation in SPOs is also low, with members younger than 24 years old representing less than five percent of the total membership. To address this, SPOs have started implementing specific measures to bring young people from SPO member households into the organizations. As a result of this initiative, 54 young people across nine countries have been incorporated over the past year.

Climate Resilience

Climate change adaptation has not yet been a focus of most of our SPOs; indeed only 4.2 percent of SPOs audited indicated they had analysed the risks of climate change and developed and implemented an adaptation plan or strategy. However, progress is being made in this area with the launch of the Climate Standard in 2015 and the certification of the first climate project in 2016. This is enabling producer organizations to respond to climate change while facilitating economic benefits from the reduction of CO2 emissions. Following the pilot phase, Fairtrade Climate Standard certification is now open to all small-scale organised groups. We have also secured funding for two climate projects in Uganda and Ghana (from Nordic Climate Fund and Mondelez), including adaptation and carbon components to be certified against the Fairtrade Climate Standard. Fairtrade International has recently hired a Senior Advisor for Climate Change to continue building our climate change programme and give impetus to our current projects.

Read about our approach to addressing climate change

What's next?

  • Review the producer service model to adjust the balance between certification advisory and targeted impact programmes
  • Accelerate efforts to further build the network of partnerships with local NGOs
  • Standardise the programme management methodology used to track progress across all areas

Calling on government to address child labour in Belize +