Fair Trade: What is it and why does it matter?

Fair trade is a movement which has been around for almost 20 years. Its goal is to break the cycle of poverty for the people involved in farming and producing global commodities, such as bananas, tea, coffee and cocoa.

In the absence of international legislation, trade happening between these commodity producers and exporters is rife with exploitation. For some commodities, the producer receives pennies on the dollar for the value of their efforts hardly enough to cover their production and labour costs. Link: Fairtrade International.

In another example, approximately 50% of global cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, comes from the Ivory Coast, where child slavery and exploitation is known to occur. Article: Ivory Coast cocoa farms child labour: Little change”.

Fair trade establishes a fair market price to the producers. This price accounts for the cost of labour and production, so farmers can achieve a wage which sustains them until their next harvest. In addition, fair trade promotes various levels of social programming such as education and healthcare for their families. Moreover, fair trade protects the market price, thereby mitigating much of the risk related to global financial and commodity markets.

We are all connected by nature and by trade, down to our most basic food choices. Everything we do in in one part of the world can have a significant impact on another part. Documentary video: “The Darkside of Chocolate”.

An important question is: Can the choices WE make in our everyday lives help to ensure the sustainable wellbeing for those in other parts of the world?