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By Tim Smedley Published: The Guardian, February 25, 2013
A Fairtrade Foundation report published today highlights the irreplaceable role of smallholder farmers in global food production, and calls on international business to reassess how it treats the most vulnerable in its supply chain.
The report, “Powering up smallholder farmers to make food fair”, draws on the Fairtrade Foundation’s experience of working with smallholders over 20 years across five main agricultural commodities: coffee, cocoa, tea, sugar and bananas.
Despite smallholders growing 70% of the world’s food – in cocoa, as much as 90% – half of the world’s hungriest people are the smallholder farmers themselves. This, says Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, is a scandal.
“Our global food system is dangerously out of control … out of control for consumers, out of control for farmers and out of control in the way food is traded and distributed … [we need to] find better solutions to the insanity of our broken food system.”
To create fundamental change for the smallholder farmers on whom international corporations depend for supply, and developing nations depend for economic growth, the report offers five key recommendations:
1. Increase farmers’ voice, influence and organisation.
2. Ensure fair share of value chains.
3. Fair access to finance and affordable credit.
4. Future-proofed farming with sustainable agriculture and climate resilience.
5. Increase the focus of government funding.