Fairtrade Africa

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Fairtrade Africa

Type of tool: Standards
Year Launched: 2004
Geographic focus: Heavy on rural farms but it can be applied in any region
Sector focus: Primarily Agriculture centered – entire value chain for agriculture from production to processing to marketing/trading to consumption

Purpose: Providing a safety net and ensuring the livelihoods of producers, causing a shift in producer livelihoods and maturity of the organization towards sustainable growth.

Updates: Every 5 years with ongoing consultation


Fairtrade Africa is part of a global organization, Fairtrade International, that has Producer Networks in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These are in-charge of producers in those countries/regions. Fairtrade International sets the standards, Producer Networks support producers to build capacity and enable them to comply with standards which are then independently audited by FLOCERT. Each buyer pays a premium on product that goes back to support the producer organizations and workers of those organizations and farmers for capacity building around a range of issues.

Active users: 500 certified farms in Africa, 182 certified farms in East Africa.

Usage tracking: Companies go through a certification cycle – compliance is graduated over 6 years. There is a minimum requirement of standards that are producers are expected to be in compliance with in year 0. As you producers go on with certification, standards graduate year on year. At year 3 producers undergo a renewal of certification (subjected to the entire scope of the standards). Annually, there is a scheduled audit to make sure the organization is in compliance (but this is not a renewal of the certificate).

Primary users: In East Africa, Fairtrade works in Ethiopia in the flower, fruits and juices and coffee industries; in Kenya, coffee, tea, flowers; in Uganda coffee, flower, tea, vanilla, cocoa fruits and juices industries; in Rwanda, tea and coffee industries; in Tanzania, flowers, tea and coffee industries; in DRC and Burundi, coffee and tea industries.

Impact measurement coverage: The standard is product focused but there are principles that look at various operations from where the material is sourced to consumption.


Cost:  There is an annual fee for certification as well as auditing. A standard rate is applicable to all farms charged by Flocert (the auditing organization).

Cost determination: Scope of the project; bigger farms require more staff to audit and will take longer, increasing the overall costs.

Implementation timeline: Dependent on where a company is in terms of readiness; management systems, environmental practices, agricultural practices and socio-economic development of workers. This could take 3-4months. A gap analysis is first conducted to check how far the company is from complying with the standard criteria.


End product: Certification and access to markets.

Process and duration: The standards are free for access including all certification documents. If companies want to use it to improve on their systems then they can download the standards and apply them. However, for certification, the Producer Network and Flocert would be engaged.

Verification of provided input: Flocert audits organizations before certification.

Output vs outcome focus: Both output and outcome focused.


Alignment with other measurement tools:  Aligned to all international charters on human rights (ILO, UN Charter on human rights, rights of women;) benchmarks on local legislation for each country of operations. Anti GMO standards, Health and Safety Requirements; Gender Rights, Anti Slavery Rights, Anti discrimination rights, – anything around decent life for the producers and workers. Social Accountability International Standard; members of ISEAL; African Standards Organisation which is an AU Initiative to support Inter-African trade; FSI on sustainable sourcing alliance to identify different strengths in schemes.

Training offered: Producer Networks in the different regions are the ones who do the training including capacity building for management and farmers.

Integrated indicators for gender inclusion: Clear indicators on gender: standards require users to do a gap analysis on gender and show progression in creating gender balanced employment. Flocert auditors are trained on those aspects to guarantee safe working conditions for all genders. All farms need to have a gender committee with a requirement on harassment, training and reporting take into account gender balance.



  • If standard is applied based on the 3 principles (facilitating fair trade, empower, provide sustainable livelihoods) you can see transformation over time that is in line with the theory of change.
  • Collective voice for workers offers collective bargaining power for workers
  • Threat of middlemen exploiting farmers is reduced


  • General challenge is attributing the score to the theory of change.
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