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Assessing the benefits of ethical trade schemes for forest dependent people: comparative experience from Peru and Ecuador

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In this paper we consider the social impact of ethical trade schemes, particularly the kinds of benefits ethical trade provides for smallholder farmers and their livelihoods and for sustainable forestry. We focus on two cases, which are linked to the fair trade movement: brazil nuts collected from forests in Peru and cocoa grown under agroforestry conditions in Ecuador. The impact assessment approach used in these studies is explained and the findings outlined. The evidence that benefits accrue to smallholders and collectors of forest products is mixed. In Ecuador, we found that the benefits accruing to small producers of the cocoa scheme included cash payments, more transparent weighing and grading systems, better returns on crops due to the vertical integration of the ethical trading chain, and capacity building benefits (e.g. organisational development, cultivation techniques and marketing). In Peru, brazil nut collectors participating in the ethical trade scheme did not perceive major differences between the ethical scheme and the conventional trading chain. However, there are also positive aspects of the brazil nut ethical scheme, such as the use of electronic weighing scales which increases transparency and advocacy efforts relating to improving the quality of the brazil nuts exported and thus helping to maintain access to international markets. Most of the brazil nuts and cocoa are now sold on conventional markets, although the fair trade markets helped both schemes to become established on international markets. Non-monetary benefits, obtained through capacity building, are often underrated but are important to producers, particularly in the ethical cocoa scheme.
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Keywords: ethical trade; fair trade; forestry; impact assessment; livelihoods

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Natural Resources and Ethical Trade Programme, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK;, Email: [email protected] 2: Natural Resources and Ethical Trade Programme, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent, ME4 4TB, UK

Publication date: 01 June 2002

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