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What is Fairtrade?
As the name suggests, Fairtrade is about making trade fair for everyone, but especially the farmers and workers in the developing world. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International defines Fairtrade as:
A trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers - especially in the South.
Fairtrade organisations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade. Fairtrade's strategic intent is:
deliberately to work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency
to empower producers and workers as stakeholders in their own organisations
to actively to play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.”
A minimum price is paid for the goods (one that covers the cost of sustainable production) and an extra premium is paid, (one that is invested in social or economic development projects).
Key benefits from Fairtrade often include –
A regular income from the crops for the producers
Better wages and working conditions for the workers
Improvements to water supplies and sanitisation facilities
New housing and schooling
Increased self-esteem for all concerned
The Fairtrade mark is an independent consumer label (licensed by The Fairtrade Foundation) that appears on approved products and acts as a guarantee that the producers are getting a better deal. For a product to be allowed to display the Fairtrade mark, it must be a set of standards which are set by the international certification body, the FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International).
Who benefits from Fairtrade?
Small-scale farmers and workers:
Worldwide consumers spent approximately 3.4 billion euros on Fairtrade certified products in 2009. This represents a 15% increase on the previous year. There are now 827 Fairtrade certified producer organisations in 58 developing countries representing 1.2 million farmers and producers. Fairtrade products are on sale in 70 countries. Estimated UK retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2011 were £1.32 billion, a 12% increase over 2010.
Fairtrade Certification allows them to achieve economic independence and empowerment while improving their standards of living. Beyond being paid a fair price for their produce, the Fairtrade Premiums enables producers to better their communities by providing:
Improved access to low or no-interest loans
Technical assistance for building infrastructure to improve production
Communications systems, and collectively-owned transport and processing equipment
Better health care and education
Technical training and skill diversification for cooperative members and their families
Any other investment deemed necessary or beneficial to the community or organization.
The Fairtrade system benefits consumers by:
Giving them the option of purchasing according to their principles and values
Empowering them to be a player in the solution to global trade inequities
Providing them with high quality products
Assuring them of the ethical source of their purchases
Fairtrade rewards and encourages farming and production practices that are environmentally sustainable, such as:
Integrated farm management systems which minimize pollutants, pesticides and herbicides
Organic agriculture techniques
Banning the use of most dangerous pesticides