economic: building rural economies

Sustainability 12

how we help to build sustainable agricultural and rural economies

Sustainability 13

Economic Case Study

7 December 2016

Ensuring fair trade for farmers in southern Africa

Ensuring fair trade for farmers in southern Africa


AB Sugar is continually working to ensure its future development supports both its long-term success and the sustainability of the communities in which it operates.

Through the South African Fairtrade Sugar Project, Illovo, AB Sugar’s southern African business, aims to support the development of farming and local communities to enable a sustainable future for people and the environment.  

What we did

The Fairtrade business model is a voluntary certification system based on internationally recognised labour and environmental standards. The South African Fairtrade Sugar Project, supported by Illovo, was launched in 2014, and the first Fairtrade certified crop of cane sugar became available in December 2015.

Farmers are encouraged to form cooperatives which are then eligible to receive a Fairtrade Development Premium of £34 for every tonne of refined Fairtrade sugar produced from their sugarcane. The premium is intended to help grow and develop their community or business.  It is used to invest in capacity building, buying transport vehicles, seed cane, or assisting with the overall infrastructure of the farms and surrounding communities.


Thembilihle Mzila is a small sugar cane farmer in Noodsberg, South Africa, and chairs her local cooperative. She has seen her resources grow exponentially following support from the South African Fairtrade Sugar Project and Illovo, enabling her to renovate her home and put her daughter through university: “They taught me everything and trained me and I am doing well.”

Notes to editors:

More information on Illovo’s work can be found at:

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