CGD in the News

Do Sustainable Certifications For Coffee Really Help Coffee Growers? (NPR)

September 05, 2018

By Angus Chen 

From the article: 

Most of the time, we don't know how our coffee is made. We don't know if children's hands handled the berries when they might have been handling pencils, if workers had respirators to protect against harsh agrochemicals or if global coffee prices shafted the farmer this year. Sustainable certifications, like the Rainforest Alliance's green frog tagor Fairtrade's yellow and blue sticker, are a way people try to verify their coffee is up to a certain standard.

But, according to a recent paper from the Center for Global Development reviewing roughly 100 studies from the last decade, it's almost impossible to tell if those certifications have any measurable effect on coffee growers. "To do good analysis of impact, you need to plan that in from the beginning," says Kimberly Elliott, the author of the paper and a political scientist at the Center, an economic research nonprofit. "It's expensive to do that and, in the beginning, nobody was doing that."

Read the full article here.