The Value of Fair Trade

Fair trade “makes the difference between whether my family eats or does not eat.”  (Blanca Rosa Molina, Nicaraguan coffee grower)

1.      A Morality Tale
“When we arise in the morning…..at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African; before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world.” (Martin Luther King) 

2.     The Problem with International Trade
The mainstream trading system is failing the poor. “Free trade” fails because it favors the powerful. Rich countries become powerful in part because of their own protectionist policies. Fair trade offers long-term partnership in place of exploitation.  

3.     The Value of “Fair Trade”
Fair Trade bypasses intermediaries, raises incomes of small farmers and other producers and boosts local economies in poor countries. The fair trade farm-gate price is the key to a better life for hundreds of thousands of families.

A “Social Premium” is included in the price of Fair Trade certified products. It may be small but it makes a major difference when the rural poor put the money to work...and it benefits young and old.

Fair Trade Offers Hope

  • For plantation workers, often among the poorest of the poor
  • For coffee and tea-growers benefiting from an expansion of the market for Fairtrade certified brands.
  • For nut-growers and gatherers, for whom the terms of trade are very unfair.
  • For Indian cotton farmers whose rate of suicide is disturbingly high when faced with the pressures of pest control costs, subsidized imports and the competition of synthetics.
  • For the marketing of the 20000+ Fairtrade-certified products that are available - and the even greater number of other fair trade goods. 

Fair Trade puts a human face on development by

  • Putting many of the best people-centered, ideas about development into practice – in cooperative, sustainable projects.
  • Making available quality products grown or made by people who have a real stake in what they are doing.
  • Empowering women and girls and contributing to ending child exploitation.
    Encouraging community action that results in more children going to school, health standards rising and environmental degradation falling.
  • Spreading power away from large corporations, strengthening human rights and enabling ordinary people to have more control over their own lives.
  • Defending diversity, embracing partnerships which the mainstream economy often rejects (indigenous peoples, people with disabilities).
  • Challenging transnational trading companies, including supermarkets, to trade more fairly. 

Source: “50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade”, Miles Litvinoff & John Madeley, Pluto Press, London, 2007

The Impact of Fair Trade

Fairtrade International (aka FLO - its previous name was Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International) invests in " Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning". MEL Reports contain much valuable information, as can be seen here

Fair Trade USA publishes annual Fair Trade impact reports on specific products. Click here