We hear the phrase ‘Fairtrade’ a great deal these days but what does it really mean and why should we choose products that have the fairtrade mark? Here we take a look at what it means to be fair trade and the benefits of buying such goods.
What is it?
Imagine going shopping and knowing that you are really making a difference for the better to someone’s life. It would be a good feeling, wouldn’t it? Fairtrade is a process whereby farmers get a better deal, have more independence to control their own affairs and live in a more dignified way in poorer countries.
With more than 1.65 million farmers and workers worldwide who are part of the fair-trade programme, buying their produce really does change lives. In over 74 developing countries, workers are offered better prices, improved living conditions and a more positive future being part of the fair-trade agreement.
What does it do?
In a nutshell, it sets certain standards. Conditions in social, environmental and economic matters must be of a required standard for the companies involved in order to protect the farmers and workers. A minimum price must be paid for goods made and the rights of the workers are protected as well. A Fairtrade premium is also available to help companies invest in local businesses and community projects.
Independent checks are made to guarantee that these standards are being upheld and this is when a product can be marked with the Fairtrade symbol. For a look at some beautiful African Bolga Baskets, visit http://www.injabulo.com/
Do consumers want it?
Yes, there is an increasing demand for products that have been responsibly sourced and demonstrate sustainability. Fairtrade works with many companies who have their own programmes set up, as long as they share the same values and principles. They also work in the countries at a grassroots level, helping farmers and workers with issues, in order to report back and lobby government for fairer treatment.
Where do Fairtrade products come from?
It’s a busy operation with 1,226 producer organisations across the Fairtrade scheme. Countries included in the system include but are not restricted to Colombia, India, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Bolivia, Kenya, Mexico, Belize, Peru, Argentina and Vietnam.
What kinds of things can you buy?
There is a huge number of Fairtrade products available to buy in stores and online. Coffee and tea, chocolate and flowers, woven products and even gold! Fairtrade certifies small farmer organisations who sell things like cocoa, cotton and rice. Fairtrade also certifies plantations that produce bananas and tea.
How is life changed in the developing countries?
It’s decided by the workers and farmers how to spend the Fairtrade premium and it has been used to build hospitals, water wells, farming equipment and learning about organic farming methods. In this way, the local community chooses what to invest in for their future and provides them greater independence over their livelihoods.