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Baseline Study for Fairtrade in the West African Cotton Sector

Fairtrade wants to demonstrate its contribution to positive change at farm and producer organization level in the West African cotton sector.
Cotton is an important cash-crop for many marginalized farmers in developing countries and hence important to Fairtrade. Fairtrade seeks to obtain a clear understanding of current practices in the field in order to establish robust baseline data. This permits future evaluation of the impact of Fairtrade’s work in cotton at both farm and producer organization levels. Fairtrade commissioned Aidenvironment to assess the current state of Fairtrade cotton farming in West Africa and to design a methodology to measure the long-term impact of introducing the Fairtrade Cotton Program.

How did Aidenvironment help?
Using Fairtrade’s Theory of Change, Aidenvironment formulated three impact pathways for farm performance, market access and strong and inclusive producer organizations. These pathways enable focus on specific cause-effect relationships. Data was collected from Fairtrade certified, Fairtrade and Organic certified and non-certified farmers as well as from smallholder producer organizations in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso. Apart from setting a baseline, the study allowed us to assess farmer satisfaction and Fairtrade’s contribution to expected impacts. The study included surveys with 264 farmers and 47 producer organizations. Findings were analyzed and recommendations to further increase Fairtrade’s impact were formulated.

Results
Fairtrade welcomed this study and its hugely important set of baseline data on the impacts of Fairtrade certification. The findings strengthen their evidence base of the positive impact of certification and identify areas for further improvement. Many of the findings and recommendations have been translated into positive changes.

Click here to download the report.
Click here to read the study at a glance.
Click here to read Fairtrade’s response to the evaluation.

For more information, contact Jan Willem Molenaar.