Decaf empowerment? Post-Washington Consensus development policy, fair trade and Kenya's coffee industry

Zoƫ Pflaeger
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal of International Relations and Development
Issue Number
Publication Date
July 2013
Central and East European International Studies Association
There has been much debate surrounding the shift in development policy towards the Post-Washington Consensus and its associated Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. This article seeks to engage critically with and further this literature by considering the concept of empowerment and its role within this consensus through an examination of development policy aimed at farmer empowerment in Kenya. This is investigated with a focus upon coffee producers in the context of Kenya's coffee reforms and the restructuring of the global coffee industry. While acknowledging the limitations of the dominant approach, exacerbated in the African context due to a problematic interpretation of the African state, it is argued that analyses of empowerment should also consider the opportunities for its re-politicisation. Drawing upon Gramscian thought, this article suggests that fair trade initiatives have the potential to offer an alternative approach to farmer empowerment more capable of challenging the concentration of power among roasters and buyers that has taken place within the coffee industry.
Political Geography
Kenya, Africa, Washington