Fair prices to achieve a living income for small farmers and its relation to local food purchase programs
This paper (PDF) in the Sociology and Anthropology journal aims to stimulate a discussion of how to raise the farmers’ income in a non-conventional way, namely by providing another way of looking at prices. For poverty alleviation as well as for food security with the agricultural producers, it is necessary to take a different look at producer prices, especially for small farmers. Since farmers do not earn a sufficient livelihood, alternative ways than market prices have to be looked at. An alternative application for market prices, are the ‘fair prices’. This fair price is the minimum price the farmer should receive in order to attain a living income and food security. The living income / fair price methodology takes as its point of departure the real local costs of living and the real production costs, and thus leads to different fair prices in different places. According to the author, this paradigm shift from the use of prices decided by the market with all its imperfections, to an approach founded on ethics is needed. The developments at both company and NGO level concerning living wage and living income give rise to the hope that the fair price concept will also be further developed soon. Fair prices are an important solution for the farmers’ problems, but are not the only solution. The Living Income / Fair Price methodology can be used in combination with other approaches, such as sustainable agricultural practices. As conditions are different in each country, more research is needed to analyze the consequences of the payment of fair prices for several groups of the population and to advise local governments about adequate accompanying measures.