Fairtrade originated from the need to protect farmers and workers in developing countries. Today the Fairtrade label represents a global movement that guarantees better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade.
Conventional trade traditionally takes advantage of the poorest and weakest producers that have the least bargaining power. Coffee and chocolate are amongst the commodities which are particularly prone to appalling working conditions and price fixing by the major corporate buyers.
Fairtrade represents more than just money and ultimately it means a better product reaches you. Their policies include:
- Price – farmers are paid a reasonable price, never below the market value.
- Investment premium – paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that farmers and workers invest in social, environmental and economic developmental projects to improve their businesses and their communities. They decide democratically by committee how to invest the premium
- Environment – farmers have to meet environmental standards, to protect natural environments.
- Sustainability – promoting the use of sustainable and organic farming techniques.
- GM ban – forbid the use of GM seeds and planting stock.
- The small producer – with around 70% of coffee producers being small scale they face particular disadvantages in the market place. Fairtrade favours and support these producers.
- Child labour – prohibits child labour (under 15 yrs old).
- Discrimination – Fairtrade follows the Universal Declaration of Human rights.
- Occupational health and safety for workers – the developing world has acutely inadequate. standards for health and safety. Fairtrade sets minimum standards.
If you want to learn more check out their website, specifically the farmers and workers section: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Farmers-and-Workers
Note, where you see a list of positives promoted by an organisation, realise that it is a mirror image of what goes on in the other side of the industry. See https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/bittersweet-toil-how-2-day-10760532
So when you next shop for bananas, tropical fruits, coffee, tea, dried fruit and nuts, rice or sugar look out for the Fairtrade logo.
Final thoughts – The need for the Fairtrade movement highlights everything that is wrong with corporate power and greed in the food industry. The plight of the farmers in developing countries in the starkest realisation of this, but the same principles apply globally. Being an Ethical omnivore is about supporting good farming practices and real farmers. Without them we won’t have ongoing access to quality, sustainable products. It might cost a bit more but the value is far greater.
Fairtrade banana with my porridge this morning 🙂