Photo: Fairtrade Foundation.
Ever wondered what this Fairtrade business is all about? Richard, one of our Peace Hub volunteers, finds out:
Martin Luther King once said: “before you’ve finished your breakfast this morning, you’ll have relied on half the world”. In the modern world, with its interconnected series of trade relationships spanning the globe, that statement is more applicable than ever. The beans that make up the freshly brewed coffee you drink and the banana you eat were all grown somewhere; produced by someone.
Many of the countries producing these and other products are developing ones. However, unfair trade rules and an imbalance of economic power continue to lock millions of people in these developing countries into poverty. Fairtrade is about ensuring better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.
All Fairtrade farmers receive prices that cover at least the cost of production, and these are never below market value. It works directly with producers to develop products based on a sustainable use of their natural resources, giving communities a reason to preserve and maintain their environment. A Fairtrade Premium is also paid above the selling price to producers to invest in local social infrastructure projects, such as roads, schools, and hospitals. This ensures that the benefits of Fairtrade extend beyond farmers and into communities.
In order to gain Fairtrade accreditation, large-scale producers must grant their employees certain rights, including freedom of association and collective bargaining. These required standards prevent forced or illegal child labour, and enforced health and safety standards make workplaces far safer.
Buying Fairtrade isn’t an act of charity. It is instead about reconsidering the relationship between producers and consumers, ensuring that it is based on equity and transparency, and is an assertion of the rights of all to have decent living and working standards. By taking action on Fairtrade, you are helping to secure rights for some of the most marginalised producers in the world.
If that’s inspired you, then why not pop into Peace Hub to get hold of some Fairtrade snacks. You can also sign a postcard to your MP, asking them to make the UK’s trade deals fair.
This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on this site in 2015.