There is also evidence that many of the workers in Fair Trade companies don’t see improvements in their lives. According to a 2014 Harvard study, only skilled laborers and owners benefit from Fair Trade. Unskilled workers, who make up the vast majority of Fair Trade laborers and are the most impoverished, do not see any improvement. Even for small farm owners Fair Trade can be problematic. A study in Nicaragua found that over a decade, Fair Trade farmers ended up poorer than their uncertified counterparts. The Fair Trade system, especially with it’s recent spike in multinational members is doing little to help the members of Filipinosociety who are most in need.
On the one hand, certifications in general and Fair Trade specifically are not inherently negative. There is plenty to admire in the concept and many people have undoubtedly benefitted. For instance, there is evidence that certified co-ops can be helpful for increasing land ownership and economic freedom among the poor. However, there are serious challenges inherent in certification programs and in many cases they can be ineffective or even harmful for certain groups. The multinationals filing into the Filipino Fair Trade market represent a serious concern for the most vulnerable Filipinos all while using a label that appears to protect the most downtrodden. Modelo, M. (2014) The Paradox of Fair Trade. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_paradox_of_fair_trade WTFO. (2011). WFTO Response to Fair Trade USA-FLO Split. Retrieved fromhttps://fairworldproject.org/in-the-news/wfto-response-to-fair-trade-usa-flo-split/ Dragusanu, R. & Nunn, N. (2014) The Impacts of Fair Trade Certification: Evidence From Coffee Producers in Costa Rica. Working Paper. Retrieved fromhttps://scholar.harvard.edu/files/nunn/files/draft_august_2013.pdf Beuchelt, T. D. & Zeller, M. (2011). Profits and Poverty: Certification’s troubled linkfor Nicaragua’s organic and fairtrade coffee producers. Ecological Economics 70, 1316-1324. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.819.4883&rep=rep1&type=pdf Makita, R. & Tsuruta, T. (2017) Fair Trade and Organic Initiatives in Asian Agriculture: The Hidden Realities. London and New York: Routledge. 113-115.