Equal trade, equal development

African farmers currently receive only a small fraction of the ultimate value of their output. How can the position of small-scale producers in the value chain be strengthened so they can grow their business, support their family and help uphold food supply?

Over 170 producers, NGOs, traders and other stakeholders gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the third edition of the Africa Fairtrade Convention (AFC) to find answers to these questions. The success of the convention confirms AFC’s status as a unique platform where small-scale farmers gather to have their voices heard. The event empowers producers to identify challenges and grassroots solutions to issues which influence their livelihoods. Ultimately, it allows them to drive the agricultural development agenda.

Over the course of two days, delegates discussed how they can make value chains deliver more. They agreed change is needed as effective and efficient agricultural value chains can increase productivity and promote economic growth. Three distinctive pillars were identified as major drivers for empowerment within the value chain:

  1. Building long-term, sustainable partnerships
  2. Increasing access to finance
  3. Promoting of intra-Africa trade

Fairtrade has proved its role as a development tool. The system identifies and introduces potential partners, producer organisations are trained to become more appealing to loan institutions and Fairtrade drives south-to-south trade by launching the mark in producer countries like Kenya and South Africa. However, more needs to be done to deepen and broaden the impact for producers.