The goal is considered honorable; consumers appreciate being able to help make life better for farmers and laborers in Africa. But on some farms in Kenya, Ghana and Cameroon, reality among the crops seems quite different.

Since the early 1990s, fair trade agriculture has been touted as a tool to help farmers in developing nations raise their income by securing better prices for raw products that enjoyed high demand in Europe and the United States.

Most of the intended beneficiaries are in Africa and grow labor-intensive crops like cocoa, coffee, tea, flowers, and bananas.

The standards are high: From production to shipping, nearly every step from farm to table has to be certified, by a number of organizations. In this system, many farmers who decide to adopt organic and fair trade practices sell produce and flowers to cooperatives, which in turn receive money from Europe-based Fairtrade International.

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