The Business of Development in Kenyan Fair Trade Tea
This chapter examines fair trade within the context of development, with particular emphasis on how “moral” exchange is managed, legitimated, and circumscribed by the prevailing development orthodoxy of market-based solutions. It begins with an overview of Kenya's tea industry and the paradigmatic shift toward market-friendly approaches to development in the 1990s before turning to a discussion of shifting alignments in the fair trade movement. It then assesses the fair trade tea industry, the issue of fair price, the relationship of fair trade to participation and democracy, and the politicization of fair trade. It also explores the extent to which the key principles of the fair trade system—empowerment, partnership, and democratic participation—are realized among tea producers in Aruka. Finally, it analyzes the consequences of the privatization of development and the sociotechnical arrangements it entails. It notes the disparity between fair trade's rhetorical endorsement of gender equity and its inability to accomplish these goals in practice and argues that fair trade tea growers in Kenya enjoy little discretion over the ways in which social premiums are invested.
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