Large companies and farms dominate the trade industry while small-scale producers who traditionally supply most of our commodities now struggle to sell their products. They are forced to lower their labor cost and live in poverty just to sell their products in lower prices to compete with these large producers. Fortunately, the fair trade market aims to achieve greater equity in the trading system. Fair trade is a means of providing better deals for farmers and workers.
Currently, there are over 30,000 fair trade products available globally and there are 1,210 fair trade certified producer organizations in 74 countries. Some of the
Compared to free trade, fair trade involves fewer parties and direct
commerce between buyers and producers. Its main goal is to help marginalized farmers and workers improve their lives particularly in developing countries. Fair trade also emphasizes partnership and not exploitation. It fosters a transparent, mutual and accountable relationship among the producers, traders and consumers.
Here are the top 5 reasons to buy fair trade:
1. To help farmers and workers. In buying products with fair trade mark, you are supporting 1.4 million small-scale farmers and workers in the fair trade system to thrive and maintain their livelihood. They are given the opportunity to have decent working conditions, stable income and control over their future. Through the minimum price requirement, fair trade ensures secured income for producers to save them from poverty and allow them to succeed. The participation of farmers and workers in fair trade also empowers them to form cooperatives and negotiate better prices for their products.
2. To support communities. The fair trade premium is intended for farming and working communities’ social, economic and environmental development. They use this fund for building infrastructures, scholarship programs, health care, clean water access and other projects that will benefit the community. For plantation workers, 55% of the premium is allotted to directly support farmers and workers, as well as their families while 25% are spent on community projects such as education and building of medical facilities.
3. To get high quality products. Fair trade products are produced in accordance with strict social, economic and environmental standards. All crafts are handmade and created with closer attention to detail resulting to prime quality products. Crops are produced in smaller quantities and in local communities, so you can buy fresher and tastier produce in fair trade. These products are also free harmful agrochemicals and genetically modified organisms. Aside from getting valuable products, you are also introduced to the culture of certain places and people where the goods are produced.
4. To protect children. Due to poverty, children are forced to work in order to help their families provide for their needs. Often, they work for more than twelve hours a day in dangerous conditions in production of coffees, cocoa, banana, cotton, textiles rugs and other products. There are also cases where children are taken as slaves and were never paid. Much worse, they are beated and even killed when they tried to escape in a cocoa farm in West Africa. Many children suffer the same fate in other parts of the globe and one way stop child labor and abuse is through fair trade. When families earn a decent amount of money, there is no need for their children to work. These children will even have a chance to study and secure a better future.
5. To ensure a sustainable future. If you support a biotarian or sustainable lifestyle, buying fair trade goods is definitely a great way to support the same cause. The minimum price of fair trade products is established with an additional cost for maintaining sustainable production practices to minimize environmental footprints and protect the health of the producers. Fair trade also offers access to agricultural services such as organic training to further support environmental sustainability.
Although fair trade has significantly grown in the past years, it still represents only a small fraction of the world trade. If fair trade continues to grow, more people will have better lives and we will all enjoy a sustainable future.
So when you buy fair trade, you are actually making a great difference not only on the small-scale producer’s lives but also for the whole planet and humanity.