It’s a mealtime favourite for many of us and a staple food for billions worldwide. Yet the small-scale farmers who grow most of the world’s rice are struggling to make ends meet.

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A farmer carrying bundled rice at the Fairtrade certified Organic Jasmine Rice Producer Group (OJRPG), Thailand.
Image © Santiago Engelhardt

Global rice prices are highly volatile and often do not enable farmers to meet even their basic needs. Small-scale farmers frequently go into debt during the yearly production cycle, and their products face competition from the highly subsidized rice grown on an industrial scale in developed countries. Fairtrade works with farmers in developing countries whose average plots are a few football fields in size, enabling them to gain a foothold in the global market.

Choosing Fairtrade rice makes a difference

Low returns on their products can prevent rice farmers from making necessary investments, such as equipment to simplify the hard manual labour involved in harvesting, or storage facilities to limit spoilage and waste. The changing climate is threatening to flood rice farms near major river deltas, while elsewhere heavy rains or droughts are already causing crop failures.

Fairtrade recognizes these challenges, and supports small-scale rice farmers in a variety of ways to respond to them.

  • Fairtrade certified rice producers are paid a Fairtrade Minimum Price that acts as a buffer against falling prices. The Minimum Price aims to cover the costs of sustainable production.

  • On top of the price received, Fairtrade producers earn a Fairtrade Premium that can be invested into activities and projects they choose.

  • Fairtrade covers almost a dozen rice varieties in both organic and conventional form. Both the Premium and the Minimum Price vary for production region and type of rice, and are regularly revised.

  • Fairtrade works with small-scale rice farmers who have formed democratically governed small producer organizations. We also work with rice farmers in India who don’t yet have the structures needed to get certified as small producers. Instead, they have formed contract producer organizations, selling their produce to an intermediary that supports them to become Fairtrade small producer organizations over time.

  • By supporting democratic organizations of small farmers, Fairtrade encourages a stronger, more unified voice for farmers in trade relations.

Rice is a versatile and nutritious food you almost certainly have in your home. Why not cook up a fair deal for farmers along with your meal? Choose Fairtrade rice.

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Rice farmers used some Fairtrade Premium funds to make a sewing and craft centre for women, to supplement their income.
Image © Didier Gentilhomme

What is the Fairtrade premium?

The Fairtrade Premium is an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers or workers invest in projects of their choice.

They decide together and democratically how to spend the Fairtrade Premium to reach their goals, such as improving their farming, businesses, or health and education in their community. Farmers and workers know best what their priorities and needs are.

Since 2014, Fairtrade farmers and workers have received well over half a billion euros in Fairtrade Premium.

This is a unique benefit enabled by your decision to buy Fairtrade products.

Looking for Fairtrade Products?

Fairtrade products are widely available. The blue countries and territories on the map below have Fairtrade organizations that promote Fairtrade products. Their websites often include a product finder to show you the full variety of Fairtrade products near you. Even if there isn't a Fairtrade organization where you live, Fairtrade products may still be available – look for our familiar marks on products!