In an effort to alter exploitative relations that characterize the conventional agro-food system, Fair Trade organizations are promoting an alternative system of certification and labeling for commodities such as coffee, cacao, and bananas that are grown under healthy social and environmental conditions. Labels then identify these products to conscientious consumers who are willing to pay more for them with the expectation that higher prices will deliver additional returns to producers. Yet, do these initiatives offer a real alternative and can they foster positive social change in the agro-food system? Drawing on fieldwork in the Dominican Republic, this paper addresses the implications of Fair Trade at the level of production. I focus on a case study of a certified banana producer group to suggest that production for the Fair Trade market can provide much needed material benefits, strengthen the producers' organization, and open up critical market access to Fair Trade partners. However, I also discuss important limits to the broader potential of Fair Trade initiatives for transforming trade relations. Fair Trade should not be ignored as an alternative mode of production or trade but, rather, a better understanding of how they are experienced by producers can help address the limits of the initiatives.
How to Cite
Banana Link. 1997. “Fair Trade Breakthrough Rattles Big Boys.” Banana Trade News Bulletin, p. 1.
------. 2000. “¿2001: Hacia Un Nuevo Siglo Bananero?” [http://www.bananalink.org.uk/ 2001_doc/2001_doc.htm].
------. 2001. Best of the Bunch! Fairtrade bananas: From producer to consumer. Norwich: Banana Link.
Barrientos, Stephanie. 2000. “Globalization and Ethical Trade: Assesing the Implications for Development.” Journal of International Development 12:559-570.
Bourgois, Phillipe. 1989. Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Brown, Michael Barratt. 1993. Fair Trade. London: Zed Books.
Chambron, Anne-Claire. 2000. Straightening the Bent World of Bananas. Maastricht: EFTA.
Cone, Cynthia Abbott and Andrea Myhre. 2001. “Community-Supported Agriculture: A Sustainable Alternative to Industrial Agriculture?” Human Organization 59:187-97.
Conroy, Michael E., Douglas L. Murray, and Peter M. Rosset. 1996. A Cautionary Tale: Failed U.S. Development Policy in Central America. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Press.
EFTA (European Fair Trade Association). 2001a. “Finally the European Commission has adopted Fair Trade.” EFTA Advocacy Newsletter 1:15.
------. 2001b. Fair Trade in Europe 2001. Maastricht: EFTA.
Evans, Peter. 2000. “Fighting Marginalization with Transnational Networks: Counter-Hegemonic Globalization.” Contemporary Sociology 29:230-41.
Fair Trade Federation. 2000. “Fair Trade Facts.” [http://www.fairtradefederation.com].
FAO. 1999. “The Market for ‘Organic’ and ‘Fair Trade’ Bananas.” CCP:BA/TF 99/7. Rome: FAO.
------. 2000. Ad-hoc Expert Meeting on Socially and Environmentally Responsible Banana Production and Trade. Rome: FAO
Fisher, Eleanor. 1997. “Beekeepers In the Global 'Fair Trade' Market: A Case From Tabora Region, Tanzania.” International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 6:109-159.
FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International). 2000a. “Fairtrade: A better deal.” [http://www.fairtrade.net].
------. 2000b. “Fairtrade Banana Criteria.” [http://www.fairtrade.net/banana.html].
------. 2002. “Sales in 2001.” FLO Fairtrade Fruits Newsletter :1.
Friedmann, Harriet. 1993. “The Political Economy of Food: A Global Crisis.” New Left Review 197:29-57.
Glover, David and Ken Kusterer. 1990. Small Farmers, Big Business: Contract Farming and Rural Development. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Goodman, David and Michael Goodman. 2001. “Sustaining Foods: Organic Consumption and the Socio-Ecological Imaginary.” Pp. 97-119 in Sustainable Consumption: Conceptual Issues and Policy Problems, edited by M. Cohen and J. Murphy. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
Henriques, William, Russel D. Jeffers, Thomas E. Jr. Lacher, and Ronald J. Kendall. 1997. “Agrochemical Use on Banana Plantations in Latin America: Perspectives on Ecological Risk.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 16:91-99.
Hinrichs, Clare, Gil Gillepsie, and Gail Feenstra. 2001. “Entrepreneurial Development at Retail Farmers' Markets: A Regional Social Economy Perspective.” Paper presented at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society, Albuquerque, NM.
Imhoff, Daniel. 1996. “Community Supported Agriculture: Farming with a Face on It.” Pp. 425-433 in The Case Against the Global Economy, edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.
Klonsky, Karen. 2000. “Forces Impacting the Production of Organic Foods.” Agriculture and Human Values 17:233-43.
Liddell, Ian. 2000. Unpeeling the Banana Trade. London: Fairtrade Foundation.
Magdoff, Fred, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H. Buttel, Eds. 2000. Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment. New York: Monthly Review Press.
Marsden, Terry. 2000. “Food Matters and the Matter of Food: Towards a New Food Governance?” Sociologia Ruralis 40:20-29.
McMichael, Philip. 2000. “The Power of Food.” Agriculture and Human Values 17:21-33.
Moberg, Mark. 1997. Myths of Ethnicity and Nation : Immigration, Work, and Identity in the Belize Banana Industry. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
Murray, Douglas L. and Laura T. Raynolds. 2000. “Alternative Trade in Bananas: Obstacles and Opportunities for Progressive Social Change in the Global Economy.” Agriculture and Human Values 17:65-74.
Nash, June. 2000. “Postscript: To Market To Market.” Pp. 175-179 in Artisans and Cooperatives: Developing Alternate Trade for the Global Economy, edited by Kimberly Grimes and B. Lynne Milgram. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Oxfam. 2001. Bitter Coffee: How the Poor are Paying for the Slump in Coffee Prices. Oxfam Policy Paper. Oxford: Oxfam.
Ransom, David. 1999. “Fruit of the Future.” New Internationalist 317:20-23.
Raynolds, Laura T. 2000. “Re-embedding Global Agriculture: The International Organic and Fair Trade Movements.” Agriculture and Human Values 17:297-309.
Raynolds, Laura T. and Douglas L. Murray. 1998. “Yes, We Have No Bananas: Re-Regulating Global and Regional Trade.” International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 7:7-44.
Renard, Marie-Christine. 1999a. “The Interstices of Globalization: The Example of Fair Coffee.” Sociologia Ruralis 39:484-500.
------. 1999b. Los Intersticios de la Globalización: Un label (Max Havelaar) para los pequeños productores de café. Mexico, DF: CEMCA
Tabb, William K. 1999. “Progressive Globalism: Challenging the Audacity of Capital.” Monthly Review 50:1-10.
Tallontire, Anne. 2000. “Partnerships in Fair Trade: Reflections From a Case Study of Cafédirect.” Development in Practice 10:166-177.
TransFair USA. 2000. “Starbucks Coffee Company Brings Fair Trade Certified Coffee to Retail Stores Through TransFair USA Alliance.” Press Release, Sept. 25, 2000.
Watts, Michael and David Goodman. 1997. “Agrarian Questions: Global Appetite, Local Metabolism: nature, culture, and industry in fin-de-siecle agro-food systems.” Pp. 1-32 in Globalising Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring, edited by David Goodman and Michael Watts. London: Routledge.
Whatmore, Sarah and Lorraine Thorne. 1997. “Nourishing Networks: Alternative Geographies of Food.” Pp. 287-304 in Globalising Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring, edited by David Goodman and Michael Watts. London: Routledge.