Fair Trade helps farmers and workers in developing countries gain a better place in the trade chain, so that they can live from their work and can invest in a sustainable future. Fair Trade is both a quality label and a worldwide movement.
By purchasing Fair Trade products you invest in people in developing countries. Through Fair Trade they receive a fair price for their products and they don’t work under inhumane conditions. That means no child labour and no extremely long working days. In contrast, attention is certainly paid to environmentally friendly production processes. To enable a product to be called Fair Trade, all parties in the trade chain have to demonstrate that they adhere to the international principles of fair trade.
In the Netherlands the Max Havelaar Stichting is the owner of the Fair Trade quality label, also known as the Max Havelaar quality label.
In Asia, Africa and South America, many small farmers are constantly uncertain about their income. In addition, they are also subject to strongly fluctuating prices on the world market, so that the yield from the harvest is often to low to support the whole family. Without a reliable income they cannot invest in their enterprise, in their children’s future, or in the community. In this way poverty remains prevalent. Fair Trade breaks this vicious circle by setting standards that give the farmers the opportunity to develop themselves.
In addition to the small farmers, plantations for a number of products are also eligible for certification. The Fair Trade standards are then focused on better working conditions for the workers. Plantation work is often notorious for low wages and bad working conditions, while labour unions are not allowed on the plantation. The most vulnerable are workers who have no fixed contract: seasonal workers and other temporary workers. Fair Trade certified products ensure improvements on the plantations.
Officially organic and Fair Trade are two different things. The regulations for organic concern the way in which you operate agriculture and how you treat the earth. The regulations for Fair Trade concern trade (in developing countries). What is organic does not necessarily have to be fair trade, and vice versa.In practice, you see that organic and Fair Trade often go together. The underlying idea is the same: being honest in your treatment of life on earth. Organic places the emphasis more on nature and animals, fair trade on the people.
With Fair Trade you often think of Far Away. The Dutch organization Bionext thinks also about the nearby: organic farmers in the region near you also deserve a fair price for their delicious products and their green service to the community.
Fair Trade stimulates small farmers and plantations to grow their products organically. For organic products they receive an extra bonus on top of the Fair Trade premium. Nevertheless, organic production is not a condition for Fair Trade certification. That would make the entry conditions to high for many farmers. Financial resources are needed in order to be able to invest in the switch to organic agriculture. The Fair Trade system is aimed at gradually increasing the sustainability and quality of production. After a few years of Fair Trade certification, many cooperatives choose to begin producing organically. In 2012 54% of all Fair Trade producers had obtained a quality label for organic production.
Farmers who grow their crops non-organically must also meet strict environmental standards. They must limit the use of pesticides as much as possible. Fair Trade International has drawn up a list of pesticides that are banned and other agents whose use is not recommended. When farmers still have to use pesticides, they must protect themselves and their environment as well as possible. Their cooperatives are obliged to provide training about the safe use and storage of pesticides. Farmers must also wear protective clothing.
More and more products carry both the Fair Trade label and the EKO or SKAL quality label for organic products.