THE FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION has released a report which claims that a planned reform of the European sugar market has the potential to drive farmers into extreme poverty over the next five years.
The Sugar Crash report outlines the possibility that as many as 200,000 farmers are at risk in developing countries is EU caps on European sugar beet farmers are lifted, as producers in countries like Africa will be unable to compete.
It backs up a study by the Department of International Development, which found that the end of beet sugar upper limit quotas could push thousands of people into poverty as local communities are affected by a reduction in farming revenue.
Fairtrade is suggesting that sugar cane farmers are being priced out of alternative markets and risk losing their livelihoods sooner than anticipated.
Michael Gidney, chief executive at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We cannot stand by and watch as thousands of sugar cane farmers in developing countries, who have supplied the UK for generations - and in some cases, been encouraged with EU funds to grow more sugar – lose their livelihoods.
“This is not a levelling of the playing field, because European beet sugar farmers get a subsidy from the EU.
“We need a new approach that puts farmers first. We’re calling on the EU to bring together government, business and civil society, to find and fund solutions that will support sugar cane farmers to stay in the game, find new markets or diversify.
“Crucially, they must involve sugar farmers in the process – and as a quarter of the EU’s sugar imports from these countries comes to the UK, DFID must play a lead role.”
The EU decision to end the beet sugar quota and the subsequent reform is viewed by the Fairtrade Organisation as a direct threat to the future of Fairtrade sugar, which has helped over 62,000 small-scale sugar cane farmers