Despite rice’s importance as a staple food for a large share of the planet’s population, small-scale farmers who grow most of the world’s rice are under severe economic pressure. Global rice prices are highly volatile and often do not provide even a basic living standard for producers.

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

Small-scale farmers frequently go into debt during the yearly production cycle, and their products face competition from highly subsidized industrial-scale production 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 farmers from making necessary investments, such as equipment to simplify the hard manual labour involved in harvesting rice, or storage facilities that can 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 uses a multipronged approach to support small-scale rice farmers in responding 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 have formed contract producer organizations, which sell their produce to an intermediary that supports them in the process of becoming Fairtrade small producer organizations.

  • 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

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!