Did you ever find yourself coming across products that are tagged as ‘organic’ or ‘ethically sourced’? These products are generally priced higher than the commercial products and carry an aura of originality of the highest form. They are humble to look at but exude a powerful quality of being indigenous. These products are Fair Trade products.
The ripples of Fair trade appeared 25 years ago when a bunch of Dutch pioneers and Mexican coffee farmers demanded a ‘fair’ price for their produce. This small initiative became a global movement touching the lives of millions of growers and shoppers and accounting for trade worth billions of dollars. It inspired countless farmers and artisans to fight for the pay that they deserve.
Fair Trade is governed by 10 key commandments that outline how a Fair Trade Organisation is supposed to operate keeping in mind, the welfare of the people and the environment around them.
Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
Poverty alleviation is the prime aim of a Fair Trade Organisation. Under this principle, the organisation is expected to help the Bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) community get a sustainable livelihood and make them self-sufficient.
Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability
The organisation is accountable for all its actions and is expected to maintain 100% transparency with its stakeholders.
Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices
The organisation is to follow fair trading practices at all times and not take advantage of the apathy of the people working in it. Fair Trade Organisations are not to trade-off their mission for the sake of higher profits.
Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price
A fair pay is the one that is mutually agreed upon by the employers and the producers. The producers can either be paid the full amount equal to the market value and/or given a share of profits of the company
Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
The organisation adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national/local law on the employment of children. The organisation ensures that there is no forced labour in its workforce and/or members or home workers.
Principle Six: Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
The organisation should refrain from getting into any kind of gender discrimination, gender inequality and ensure fair trade relations with people from all sections of the society. Additionally, the organisation has to have the policy to promote Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association.
Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions
Safe and hygienic working conditions are to be provided to the employees at all times. Special care is to be taken for the safety of the workers in case of any risky working environment.
Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building
The organisation seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade.
Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade
The organisation raises awareness about the aim of Fair Trade and the need for greater justice in world trade with honest advertising.
Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment
Fair Trade organisations source raw materials from the environment and make maximum use of it. The organisation is to ensure that no natural resources are harmed and must include steps to replenish the natural resources used for higher sustainability.
Consumers have misconceptions about what fair trade products are, in the real sense of the term. To understand more about the concept of Fair Trade and the Fair Trade landscape in India, I had a chat with the President of Fair Trade Forum of India, Mr. Iytha Mallikarjuna.
Some excerpts from the chat:
Fair Trade is a global movement created by conscious consumers and contentious producers
Trade, not Aid
Producers live in villages, that is where development is required
There are more than 110 fair trade organisations in India benefitting about 4 lakh artisans in the country
Fair Trade is nothing but convergence of various social movements
Strongest purpose of Fair Trade is community empowerment
Conscious consumerism is the power of Fair Trade
Strongest supporter of fair trade is in the age group of 25-35 years in India
The true ambassadors of Fair Trade are the consumers themselves
Watch the entire Hangout here:
About Fair Trade Forum – India
Fair Trade forum India is a national regulatory organisation under the parent global body – World Fair Trade Organisation. It works with more than 200,000 producers – artisans and farmers – through more than 100 member organisations. FTF-I is a not-for-profit organisation, registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. FTF-I works to ensure a dignified income and overall development of artisans, farmers and workers in the unorganized sector.