Fairtrade Standards ensures that a price is paid to producers that aims to cover the costs of sustainable production: The Fairtrade Minimum Price ensures that if the price for a commodity falls below a certain level, fairtrade producers have the safety net of the minimum price, acting much like a minimum wage in this country. This helps to give them security knowing they will be able to cover their production costs. Although this seems a basic requirement, where goods are not Fairtrade, you cannot guarantee that artisans or farmers in developing countries are getting a wage that even covers the cost of production, or a minimum wage.
Fairtrade is unique in that as well as ensuring a fair price for commodities producers ~ farmer and artisan groups are also paid an additional sum that producers can invest in development ~ this is known as the Fairtrade Premium. The Co-operative or farmer/artisan groups then together decide how best to use the Premium for the good of their community. The Social Premium is often spent on education, health and sanitation projects, or to increase the success of the business through for example increased IT skills for workers or making the production more effective or environmentally friendly. In 2016 Fairtrade social premium amounted to £32.2 Million for some of the worlds poorest communities to use for social and environmental development projects.
No Child labour
Fairtrade standards aim to ensure that there is no child labour in the supply chain- and giving parents a fair wage, also means they are far more likely to be able to afford to send their children to school, and decreases the need that the parent will have to leave the family to go further afield to find work. Further Social Premium money also may assist in providing schooling for children who may not otherwise be able to afford to attend, and helps to build or refurbish existing schools.
Fairtrade is the only label that shares 50% of the ownership for the Fairtrade Label with Fairtrade Producers. Fairtrade Producers therefore form a key part of the decision making, helping to shape Fairtrade standards and future strategy at the highest level of the Fairtrade systems governance. Fairtrade greatly increases the amount of direct contact with Co-operatives and craftspeople producing Fairtrade goods. This benefits both producer and retailer, with cross-cultural sharing of ideas and information, and transference of skills and knowledge. For example sharing ideas about increasing crop yields, helping companies work ethically and culturally sensitively in cultures very different from their own, or helping to bring farmers bring products to market. Direct contact helps to further accountability and transparency in the supply chain.
Money given in advance
When it is needed Fairtrade ensures that finances are given in advance to producers, to cover the cost of making and Fairtrade goods, so that artisans and farmers do not have to get into debt financing supplies to make their products.
Fairtrade rewards and encourages farming and production practices that are environmentally sustainable, such as protecting the soil and water sources, managing waste, improving biodiversity and reducing carbon emissions.. Producers are also encouraged to strive toward organic certification. To be certified as Fairtrade Producers must:
Fairtrade empowers women, women produce most of the food, craftwork and clothing in developing countries, but are not often treated equally to men. Fairtrade ensures both women and men receive the same wages for the same work, so supports gender equality. Women are encouraged to have their own land so they can have their own income. Studies have shown that where women are earning their own income, they spend more on their childrens and communities welfare, so the whole community benefits.
Empowers small farming communities :
Small farmers gain a stronger position in world markets by working together in a cooperative. Fairtrade supports small farmers in building up their own organisations, and helping them to compete in a very competitive market place, where bigger players traditionally dominate.
Supports Rural Communities
Because Fairtrade supports farmers and artisans in rural communities it reduces the need for workers to migrate to the cities when conditions become tough in rural communities, helping keep families and communities together.
Decent working conditions
Fairtrade aims to improve the health and safety practices at work whether this is in factories, large plantations or craft workshops. Ensuring policies are in place to monitor working conditions are healthy and safe for all workers, in turn helps reduce the amount of work-related health problems and injuries, and helps to avoid tragedies such as the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh.
Fairtrade adopts democratic practices through working through Co-operatives, and producer groups, so everyone has their say about how they work and how the Social Premium money is spent improving the local community.
Consumers benefit from being able to buy quality products, knowing that others have not been exploited through the production process. By buying fair trade products consumers send powerful signals to businesses and governments about their concern for justice and ethics in trade.
This consumer pressure encourages other organisations to develop fair trade ranges and challenges businesses to improve their social and environmental impacts on society.
It proves that there is an ethical and sustainable way of doing business, and people and planet can be put before profit.
Fairtrade ~ Making the Difference
Please see the videos below, from Fairtrade Foundation and from Rowing Olympic Gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, for examples of the difference Fairtrade can make to farmers in majority world countries.