Stand by sugar cane farmers

A change to EU trade rules is going to push 200,000 people into poverty.

We're campaigned for the European Union to properly protect the livelihoods of sugar farming communities from their damaging decision.


Generations of sugar cane farmers and their families in African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries have come to depend on the UK and other European countries buying their sugar. Their access to our markets has been shielded by the EU capping the amount of sugar grown in Europe.

However, the EU has decided to get rid of this cap, and with it the safeguarding of sugar cane farmers’ livelihoods. This damaging decision is going to plunge hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families into poverty, unless the EU acts fast.

We can’t put the cap back on, but we can demand the EU takes proper responsibility for the effects of taking it off.

The EU is providing support to sugar cane farmers affected by the changes. These funds are meant to be helping them either sell their sugar to a  new market, diversify away from farming or set up 'broader development' projects which support them. 

The problem is many vulnerable farmers are not receiving this critical support and can't rescue their livelihoods. 

If we don’t stand up for these farmers and their communities no one else will. 

See the latest news below to find out how the campaign is progressing.

Want to know more? Read about the issue in more detail here. Got a question? Find our FAQs here

Latest news

August 2015

In April 2015, Fairtrade supporters sent over 75,000 emails to their Members of European Parliament (MEPs). These emails asked MEPs to contact Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Development and raise the urgent issue that vulnerable sugar cane farmers are not receiving the critical support they were promised so that they can keep earning a living from farming. 

The message was heard loud and clear by MEPs. The campaign got them to put the issue under the nose of the European Commission.

There was cross-party correspondence from MEPs to Commissioner Mimica on the issue through the European Parliament, with some going further and raising it at the Committee on Development. Linda McAvan MEP, the committee's chair, managed to meet with Mimica in May. He acknowledged the issue and agreed to investigate. 

October 2015

We launched our Show Your Hand campaign, pointing to sugar as a clear example of the damaging impact trade policy incoherence across government departments can have. We petitioned then Prime Minister David Cameron take action to prevent it from happening again. 

Research independently commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation revealed that EU reform means Mozambique and Swaziland alone stand to lose out by over US$40 million from October 2017, reducing the revenue earned from sugar exports by around 5-7%. 

The campaign enabled us to raise the issue with the Department for International Development, but unfortunately their influence over the European Commission on this matter is limited.  

March 2016

Some good news as the Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Africa secure some funding from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission for a project that will enable Fairtrade sugar cane farmers in Swaziland to adapt to the challenges they face as a result of CAP reform.

The £220,926 investment will fund a project that will run until 2018 and will benefit 4,000 farmers representing a community of 20,000 people.  Activities will include training on good agricultural practice and climate change adaptation, a diversification pilot project and organisational strengthening of small producer organisations.

September 2016

Sadly, despite efforts from Fairtrade supporters, their MEPs and Fairtrade policy representatives, the European Commission has not committed to taking any further action on this issue.  

We’re now focusing our campaigning energies on what the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals will look like – as the CAP reform shows, even slight changes in policy can have disastrous impacts. We can try to prevent this from happening again – find out more here.

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