Perhaps you’ve seen a Fair Trade Certified label on a bag of coffee or bar of chocolate. You may have even seen it on clothing or handmade craft items. But in a marketplace rife with label claims and certifications, what are the implications of a Fair Trade Certification and who does it benefit?
Many commodity items, including bananas, cocoa, coffee beans, and cotton are sourced from developing countries grown and harvested under labor-intensive, unstable conditions. Fluctuating prices and unfair trade practices have often led to an economic and ethical crisis for the farmers and producers of these products; starvation, child labor, and unsustainable farming techniques were the cost of doing business.
Fair Trade was developed as a partnership to seek equality in international trade and improve the socioeconomic conditions of the marginalized farmers. Protecting the rights of workers, fair trade gives voice to millions of small farmers and manufacturers in addition to improving the sustainability of farming techniques and preserving the surrounding environment. When consumers choose to purchase Fair Trade Certified goods they are ensuring:
-Access to safe working conditions including reduced exposure to hazardous pesticides and basic needs such as medical services for workplace injuries and cool water and shade in hot climates.
-No forced of child labor was used in the farming or production of the item.
-A fair price was paid despite fluctuations in market prices.
-Proper waste management, maintenance of soil productivity, water conservation, and reduction of pesticide use.
According to Fair Trade USA, in 2018 900,000 farmers and workers in 45 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean reached better terms with their trading partners and improved their working and economic conditions.