Sugar farmers

Around 80 per cent of the world’s sugar is derived from sugar cane, grown by millions of small-scale farmers and plantation workers in developing countries.

Sugar CaneSugar is one of the most valuable agricultural commodities. In 2013 its global export trade was worth $42bn, up from $10bn in 2000. For many countries, sugar is one of the most important sources of national income. For example, sugar accounts for 70 per cent of the value of Cuba’s exports and 40 per cent of exports from Belize.

For those who grow it, sugar can be a difficult crop to make a profitable living from.  Inflexible supply chains mean that sugar cane farmers depend on sugar mills to buy their cane and process it into cane sugar with mills also deciding how much farmers are paid.  Exporting cane sugar is particularly difficult for many African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries as markets in the EU and US are protected in favour of their own sugar beet growers and cane plantations. ACP sugar farmers have few options to diversify and depend almost entirely on cane sales for their incomes. 

Fairtrade certification in sugar cane focuses on small-scale producers and there are currently 62,700 cane farmers participating in Fairtrade. The main economic provision of Fairtrade Standards in sugar is the Fairtrade Premium of $60 per tonne of sugar ($80 per tonne for certified organic sugar) in addition to the negotiated price. In Malawi, investment of the Premium has improved food security for cane farmers while in Belize, investments in farming improvements have increased productivity by 21 per cent.  

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Our Sugar farmers

  • BSCFA

    BSCFA, Belize

    Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) is located in the ‘sugar belt’ area of northern Belize.

  • Sugar

    Henry Matenda - KCGA, Malawi

    Henry Matenda owns a 2.5 hectare plot of land on which he grows sugar cane as part of Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association (KCGA).

  • kcg female worker

    Kasinthula Cane Growers Association, Malawi

    Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association (KCG) is a smallholder sugar cane project located in an inhospitable region of southern Malawi.

  • manduvira coop

    Manduvirá Co-operative PARAGUAY

    Manduvirá Co-operative is located in the remote district of Arroyos y Esteros, around 70km northeast of Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay.

  • Masauko

    Masauko Khembo - KCG, Malawi

    Masauko is General Manager of Kasinthula Cane Growers Limited, a company owned by KCG farmers through the Shire Valley Cane Growers Trust.

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