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Smith College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


This project examined the relationship between specialty coffee certifications and development. The focus was exploring the local and national implications Fairtrade coffee certifications have in Uganda. Coffee is a critical commodity, accounting for 15 percent of Uganda’s foreign exchange and engaging over one million households in production. Currently, specialty certified coffees including Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and 4C make up only four percent of total production. However, under Uganda’s 2013 National Coffee Policy, there is a target to expand specialty production to 24 percent. It is therefore imperative to understand how these specialty certifications affect primary producers participating as well as the capacity certifications have to promote development locally and nationally. This study surveyed 100 farmers, 55 of which were selling to Fairtrade cooperatives. It concludes that the developmental benefits derived from Fairtrade are largely local in scope. A stronger relationship between Fairtrade and development promotion was found among Robusta farmers over Arabica growers. If expansion of specialty certified coffees are to be undertaken, stronger regulations mechanisms on behalf of the Ugandan government are necessary. While Fairtrade has significant benefits for many participating producers, it should not be viewed as a viable tool for national development. Rather, government action to rectify larger global trade inequalities and complete restructuring of support for the agricultural sector are needed in order to achieve this development.


Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | International and Comparative Labor Relations | International Economics | Operations and Supply Chain Management | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change