What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is about :
- better prices,
- decent working conditions,
- local sustainability, and
- fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries.
Fair Trade ensures farmers, growers and producers receive at least a minimum fair price for the produce. This enables them to plan ahead and build their businesses and crucially, it re-balances a trade system that is stacked unfavourably against the producer. However, price is not everything and Fair Trade also addresses an absence of support for welfare, health, education or from unions.
Fair Trade is not about charity; it provides opportunities for community development, education and health projects, human rights including empowering women, prohibition of child slavery, and respect for the environment by promoting sustainable farming practices through a clearer system of trade. It is the practical application of a compelling concept which avoids the traditional approach of seeing communities slide into poverty and then offering aid. In other words it is proactive rather than reactive.
There are numerous ways of ensuring that we trade fairly, by reducing the supply chain we can ensure that more of the money that consumers pay for their products goes directly to the people who have grown or produced it and by making that chain more transparent we can see when the producers are being left out of the profits.
There are two key labels that guarantee fair trading – WFTO and the FAIRTRADE Mark.
The FAIRTRADE Mark
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries.
Fairtrade International (previously known as FLO) is responsible for setting and maintaining the Fairtrade standards that apply to producers and trading relationships. It is owned jointly by 21 national labelling initiatives covering 22 countries and producer networks representing producer organisations across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Whilst Fairtrade International sets the standards, and works with producers to help them meet them, a separate and independent international certification company (FLO-Cert) regularly inspects and certifies producers against these standards.
The Fairtrade Foundation, the UK flagship organisation for Fairtrade and guardian of the familiar logo was founded in 1992 with the first products to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark arriving on the scene in 1994. This certification system guarantees that producers and consumers are getting a better deal, so if you see the label you know it’s been fairly traded.
The FAIRTRADE Mark guarantees:
- a minimum price which is agreed with producers, set to cover at least the cost of production
- an additional premium which can be invested in projects that enhance social, economic and environmental development
- a co-operative is formed and women must have a voice
- safe and fair working conditions
- environmentally responsible and sustainable production methods.
For more information visit www.fairtrade.org.uk
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)
FAIRTRADE plays a crucial role but some products are yet to be supported by the FAIRTRADE system, such as crafts and clothing, as they are complex. Whilst FAIRTRADE certified cotton is available, there is a lengthy process that the raw product needs to go through before it becomes items of clothing that we see in the shops or online. This is where the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) comes in. They work hard to ensure that the producers under their scheme are supported throughout the supply chain. They work by the following 10 principles:
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fair Trading Practices
- Payment of a Fair Price
- Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
- Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions
- Providing Capacity Building
- Promoting Fair Trade
- Respect for the Environment
World Fair Trade Day is celebrated on the 2nd Saturday in May each year, so think about what you could do to make a difference this year.
For more information visit: www.wfto.com