Fair trade goal is to work with small farmers all around the world and provide them better purchase prices in order for them to live decently. As stated in the Fair Trade Principles, faire trade is “trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade”. The main organisation is Fairtrade Foundation; almost every fair trade good you will buy is controlled by it. The market of fair trade is important: “sales of Fairtrade products have grown to €7.3 billion (£6.3 billion) working with 1,230 producer organisations consisting of 1.6m farmers. “ says Bob Doherty in The Conversation based on the annual report of the Fairtrade Foundation.
The guarantee of a minimum price for the farmers regardless of the variation of the market allows them to have a long-term vision and access to credit services. There is also what is called a “social premium”. It is an addition given to the community of worker in order to be used for infrastructure projects such as schools for example.
We can think that fair trade is a little bit a marketing argument to capture the demand of the new world-conscious consumers in rich countries. However a study by the Center for Evaluation at Saarland University in Germany has show that it has a real impact on socio-economical development. For example the producers of cocoa in Ghana have seen their incomes increase in 5 years:
But incomes are not the more important thing. Some people are starving to death even if they are farmers. With Fairtrade farmers are able to improve the food security of their family throughout the year. Julio Mercado Cantillo, a banana farmer in Colombia, explains: “When we began growing bananas, it was tough. There were some days when we only had one meal. Since we joined Fairtrade, everything has changed. We now have all of our daily meals and we have also managed from the extra income from Fairtrade to buy farm animals which provides an extra source of food, and the opportunity to bring in more income by selling the animals.”
Ok so Fairtrade is much better than “normal” trade. Nevertheless we can go beyond that because the Foundation helps the farmers but the final goal must be to set these farmers on an equal footing with other producers. The vision of Fairtrade is still little bit paternalist.
Alan Schaller, journalist for The Independent, went to Ethiopia to study the Union Hand Roasted Coffee, a UK based coffee importer. The Union is not only paying the farmers a descent price it is working with them on the spot to improve biodiversity conservation and the quality of the product. In this manner the producers can sell their products at a higher price and compete with the high quality brands. “Relying on consumers to return to a coffee out of a belief in a certification stamp on a packet is not as effective as promoting a product that is highly competitive among the finest coffees being produced anywhere.” says Alan Schaller. The community of farmers advised by experts can later real world connections. The drawbacks are that this process takes years and needs a constant control by the Union. But this is what we should strive for.
– Théo Quint
– The Conversation. (2017). Food security: how Fairtrade helps level the playing field for small producers. [online] Available at: http://theconversation.com/food-security-how-fairtrade-helps-level-the-playing-field-for-small-producers-70937 [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].
– Fairtrade.net. (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.fairtrade.net/fileadmin/user_upload/content/2009/resources/2012_Fairtrade_Impact_Study.pdf [Accessed 17 Jul. 2017].
– Schaller, A. (2017). The evolution Of Fairtrade: Why we need to go a step further. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/fairtrade-movement-ethics-chocolate-coffee-a7623046.html [Accessed 16 Jul. 2017].