Sugarcane makes up almost 80% of global sugar production, cultivated in developing countries by millions of smallholder farmers and workers.
Sugar is one of the most highly traded agricultural commodities; it’s worth jumping from $10 billion in 2000 to $44 billion in 2012.
Many countries rely on this important crop for a majority of their national income. For example, the income from sugar makes up the value of 70% of Cuba’s and 40% of Belize’s national exports.
Smallholder sugar farmers face numerous challenges and can find it very difficult to earn a sustainable living. They must deal with high use of hazardous agrochemicals, changing weather patterns, volatile pricing and an aging farmer population. Trade and tariff barriers — created to protect countries like the United States that produce and consume their own sugar — also pose a major threat to smallholders by limiting their export prospects.
The Fairtrade Standards for sugar focus on smallholder sugar cane farmers, with 62,200 Fairtrade sugar producers currently in the system. The Fairtrade Premium provides Fairtrade sugar farmer organizations
with $60 per metric ton of sugar (or $80 per metric ton for organic certified sugar) on top of their agreed sale price. One fantastic example of Premium use is when Fairtrade sugar producers in Belize invested the Premium in a cane quality program and equipment updates, leading to a 30% increase in their Fairtrade sugar production.