Fairtrade

Climate ChangeIt is Fairtrade Fortnight from 25th February to 10th March 2019; what is Fairtrade, why should we care, and where can we get ‘Fairtrade’ products?

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is a system that ensures better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. The Fairtrade Foundation certifies products where companies pay locally negotiated fair and sustainable minimum prices, and meet social, economic and environmental standards. In addition to a minimum price (paid if the market price is lower), a further premium is invested in social, environmental and economic developmental projects, decided upon democratically by a committee of producers or workers. There must also be continuous improvements to develop farmers’ organisations or workers’ situations.

Why Fairtrade?

Conventional trade generally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. These producers may have poor access to markets and limited information about prices and market needs, so they often get very low prices. Fairtrade gives a better price as well as a premium to help an organisation or community grow. Fair trade organisations also give training and market research advice to help producers develop and sell new Fairtrade products – and invest in opportunities to start Fairtrade for new products and new producers.

Fairtrade products have to meet minimum conditions for workers. Buying Fairtrade chocolate is important, for example, because some cocoa farmers use forced child labour in cocoa production. Fairtrade cocoa producers are strictly monitored on this1 – so if you want to ensure that your chocolate treats are not encouraging child slavery, buy Fairtrade chocolate!

The World Trade Organisations have ten principles of fair trade

Where to buy Fairtrade?

In Maidstone you can buy many Fairtrade products in Ethos and the Fairtrade stall at St. Luke’s once a month (usually the second Sunday morning – but all three Sundays around Fairtrade Fortnight). Ethos and the stall offer a wider range of Fairtrade products – great chocolate, biscuits, honey, preserves, dried fruit, cards, crafts and more.
You can also buy online from places such as Traidcraft for a range of food, gifts, household products and some clothes, or People Tree for environmentally sustainable fashion.

Fair trade products are also available in some supermarkets. The most commonly sold Fairtrade products are bananas, sugar, coffee, tea, chocolate and wine but there are many more products that could be made available. Do ask your supermarket to stock more if you don’t see them.

Do also consider fairtrade options when buying flowers or gold.

Footnotes

1 www.researchgate.net & www.fairtrade.com.au

Adapted from an article written by Sam Ling and Andrew Dorward for the Wye Church Eco-congregation working group.

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