Fairtrade Foundation standards do not regulate wages if a smallholder employs less than a “significant number” of workers, which is generally interpreted to mean 20. If they employ fewer than 20, they aren’t even required to pay the legal minimum wage.
80% of coffee is produced by small holders with just 1-2 hectares, so these regulations just don't apply.
Agents can "demand" back-handers from farmers if the farmer agrees that his product is "Fairtrade" as it is thought consumers will pay a higher price in the belief they are giving something back. So, more profit, but not for the farmer.
We work directly with the farmers. We pay them, not their agent or cooperative supervisor the price.
We are also developing a blockchain solution in partnership with the University of Leicester so that consumers know exactly the journey their produce made from the field to the table, how the produce was grown, under what conditions, when it was harvested and what chemicals (if any) were used in the production.
This system also allows the farmer to track the payment in reverse so he or she, for coffee farmers are predominantly women, know exactly where the purchase price has gone.
So a fair, transparent system for all involved where those doing the work reap the benefit.