Fair trade coffee supply chains in the highlands of Papua New Guinea: do they give higher returns to smallholders?
This research focussed on Fair Trade (FT) coffee supply chains in Papua New Guinea. Three research questions were asked. First, do small holders in the FT chains receive higher returns than the smallholders in the conventional chains? Secondly, if smallholders in the FT coffee chains receive higher returns from their coffee than the smallholders in the conventional chains, what are the sources of these higher returns? Finally, if smallholders in the FT chains don't receive higher returns than in the conventional chains, what are the constraints to smallholders receiving higher returns from the FT coffee chains than the conventional chains? A conceptual framework for agribusiness supply chain was developed that was used to guide the field work. A comparative case study methodology was selcted as an appropriate method for eliciting the required information. Four case study chains were selected. A paired FT and conventional coffee chains from Okapa and another paired FT and conventional chains from Kainantu districts, Eastern Highlands Province were selected for the study. The research found that smallholders in the FT chains and vonventional chains receive very similar prices for their coffee (parchment price equivalent). Hence, there was no evidence that smallholders in the FT chains received higher prices or returns from their coffee production than smallholders in conventional chains. This study also found that there was no evidence of FLO certification improving returns to smallholders in the FT chains over those returns received in the conventional chains, but the community that the FT smallholder producers come from did benefit. The sources of these community benefits lies in the shorter FT chains and the distributions of the margin that would have been otherwise made by processors to producers, exporters and the community. In addition, this study found that constraints associated with value creation are similar in all the four chains studies. However, there are some added hurdles for the FT chains in adhering to FT and organic coffee standards. Moreover, FT co-oeratives lacked capacity to trade and their only functions were to help with FLO certification and distribute the FT premium to the community. The findings of this research support some aspects of the literature, but not others. The research contribution is the finding that in this period of high conventional coffee prices, returns to smallholders from FT chains were no bettter than the returns gained in conventional chains, which leads to oppotunism and lack of loyalty by smallholders in the FT chains. The other contribution of this research is in identifying a particular type of free rider who is not a member of the FT co-operative but has right to the community benefits generated by the FT chain.... [Show full abstract]