The National, Thursday July 5th, 2012
FAIR trade is an organised social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability.
The Fair Trade Movement targets producers, farmers at grassroots level in developing countries.
In the region alone, fair trade has been responsible for lifting trade in countries such as Papua New Guinea, especially in the export of cocoa beans or coffee beans trade.
As stated on their website: “The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards.
“It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers, and gold.
“Fair trade is also associated with the trade justice movement, which advocates for fair trade public policies”.
At present, Fair Trade Australia and New Zealand is looking at ways to help improve the situation of farmers in the sugar cane industry.
At the inaugural and recent Pasifika Trade Show at Denarau, in Fiji, PNG Fair Trade producers were showcased.
The Fair Trade ANZ (Australia-New Zealand) booth showcased commodities from different regions in Papua New Guinea which include fair trade and organic certified cocoa, coffee and vanilla.
Representative Will Valverde told the Fiji Export Council (FEC) they were already assisting around 60,000 producers or farmers in the region.
“Fair trade enables Pacific-based farmers, workers and their communities to grow and develop their businesses ensuring they can improve and sustain the livelihoods of their families and communities,” Valverde says.
“More than 60,000 small producers in the Pacific currently benefit from the fair trade system, and this number is set to grow in coming years alongside the fair trade market in Australia and New Zealand, which in 2011 experienced a growth.
“Fair trade retail sales jumped 35% on the previous year reaching A$202 million.”
Its manuals exhibited at the exhibition, stated: Fair trade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, fair trade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers.
It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.
The huge success of fair trade has encouraged other consumer labels and certification systems to consider the welfare of the people behind the products.
What do these other labels mean and how do they compare to fair trade?
“But there is a certification process one must go through to be assisted as there are standards that must be attained, in order to be involved in the fair trade loop,” Valverde says.
Through its standards, fair trade labelling is the only certification scheme that sets out to tackle poverty and empower producers in developing countries.
Other schemes have as their focus “protecting the environment’ or ‘enabling companies to trade their coffee”.
Fair trade is unique in a number of ways:
g It is the only certification system that includes prices (for most products) that cover the costs of sustainable production;
g It helps farmers and workers to tackle poverty, improve the quality of their lives and invest in their futures through the fair trade premium;
g It favours organised small farmers in certain products as they are usually the poorest and most under represented;
g Its requirements and standards aim to increase the empowerment of worker;
g Producers are not simply beneficiaries; they are joint partners in fair trade.
FEC is now looking at ways to help Fair Trade ANZ identify projects in Fiji and also create more awareness.
Valverde says once a project is identified via application, the organisation sends reps to help train them to be able to attain the certification level. – Fiji Export Council