Fair trade is an organized, market-based approach which seeks to address the interest of marginalized manufacturers or producers from developing nations in international trade. By connecting producers to customers and offering a level playing field, it ensures greater market access and sustainable livelihood for its members and their employees. This is mainly achieved through dialogue, participation and greater transparency, backed by encouraging customer support.
Ten principles of fair trade
Fair trade is based on the following 10 principles:
- Reducing poverty of marginalized producers of fair trade products through ownership and economic self sufficiency.
- Bringing accountability and transparency by removing communication bottleneck at all levels of the supply chain.
- Establishing and ensuring fair trade practices.
- Fair remuneration or wages as mutually agreed through dialogue.
- Ensuring that there is no forced labour or child labour in the workforce.
- Ensuring that there is no discrimination based on race, nationality, origin, caste, sexual orientation, political affiliation or age.
- Promoting healthy and safe working conditions for the workers.
- Ensuring transparent advertising and marketing techniques.
- Encouraging the use of raw materials through sustainably managed sources.
- Developing skills and capabilities of its members and employees.
Fair trade products
Some common products are coffee, chocolates, handicrafts, flowers, fruit, wine and cotton.
Non-organically grown chocolates typically require that the farmers cut down the trees in that area. This can have devastating environmental and economical consequences – erosion of top soil, reduced ground water level and frequent flooding, thereby adding to the problem of poverty.
On the other hand, production of fair trade chocolate is environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial as it combines fair trade principles with certified organic cocoa production. It is assumed that the production of high-quality organic cocoa would give farmers with better bargaining power when dealing with international corporate buyers, and therefore ensure fair wage.
Similarly, for fair trade coffee farmers, fair trade offers a higher profit as it seeks to bypass the coffee traders. Also, the growers of fair trade coffee are assured a guaranteed minimum ‘fair trade price’ on a per-pound-basis for the coffee they produce. Not only this, fair trade also ensures that the farmers receive a certain amount of credit from coffee importers to help them stay out of debt from middle men.
By buying and supporting fair trade products, such as fair trade coffee or fair trade chocolate, we create an awareness and support for such products. Not only this, you and I as customers, also benefit from fair trade products. Since fair trade products are procured from sustainably managed sources, we know that the ingredients that are used in making such products are safe for our health and for the environment.