A: It didn’t used to but increasing in Australia we are buying into the idea of Fairtrade, as these charts show. This week Harriet Lamb director of the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK is visiting Australia, a leader in certification of the ethical sourcing of products. The fact is that Europe has been leading the world in sourcing Fairtrade goods for some 18 years while in Australia in the past five or six years we have only come to buy into the certification scheme. Basically Fairtrade’s aim is to protect workers in developing countries who are often exploited to produce cheap commodity products from chocolate to coffee, tea, cotton and even sports balls. The question to ask is whether the chocolate, coffee or tea you buy each day is ethically sourced. That means that a decent price is paid for the commodities, there are decent working conditions and that child labour isn’t used. You also might be interested to hear that 75 per cent of the world’s sports balls come from Pakistan and that many workers co-opt their children into making them. They often work long hours and are paid PKR20 (about one-third the minimum wage) To participate all you need to do is change shopping behaviour and as you can see from the charts supplied by the Fairtrade Association of Australia and New Zealand we are starting to do this. I had the opportunity to ask Lamb a series of questions for a story I was writing for a business magazine and was only able to use a small portion of the answers due to space constraints. Here is the full Q&A. EC: Why has the UK seen such amazing growth in Fairtrade while the economy has been so poor? HL: I think that the public are basically very decent – so once they know about Fairtrade, they are very loyal. Indeed, once you know about poverty among farmers, you cannot “unknow” that – in fact, if anything, in tough times maybe you have more empathy with people really struggling to make ends meet. Fairtrade is about going back to your core values – about people – and coming out of a time of abundance, the UK public’s mood may be in tune with those core values. It is indeed significant, that while people have cut back on any items, they have increased their spending on Fairtrade and are… Read more »
Posts Categorized: Fair trade
In the early 1990s things got really bad for coffee growers. Market prices rock-bottomed for the bean. It cost more to grow than the market would pay.Growers pulled their children out of school to work, forests were cleared to put in more coffee trees and labourers lost their jobs. That’s where The Fairtrade Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up in 1992 by groups including Oxfam, jumped in.The aim was to ensure that Third World farmers got a fair deal when trading with richer countries.