Margaret from Lancaster, Morecambe and District’s Fairtrade movement celebrates 25 years of Fairtrade.
In 1994 the first Fairtrade certified product Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate made with cocoa from Belize was launched, followed shortly after by Cafédirect coffee, Percol coffee and Clipper tea. Today there are over 6,000 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold.
In addition to being a widely recognised certification mark in the UK, Fairtrade is also a global movement for change. It is not just a different way of doing business but a unique international movement that aims to tackle poverty by changing the way world trade works.
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, the right to join unions, local sustainability, longer-term trading relationships, with more stability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Forced or child labour is prohibited.
On the world market, commodity prices rise and fall, making it difficult for producers to plan for their future. If farmers earn less than it costs to run their farm, they face real hardship – struggling to buy food or keep their children in school. They risk losing their land and livelihood. Fairtrade is one approach that aims to provide the safety net of a transparent minimum price and investment for the future through the Fairtrade Premium (a little extra sum of money that the producers decide for themselves how to spend to strengthen their businesses and communities).
By requiring companies to pay fairer prices, which must never fall lower than the market price, Fairtrade addresses some of the injustices of conventional trade which traditionally discriminate against the poorest worker producers. It plays a role in supporting them in improving their position; enabling a little more control over their lives. Some Fairtrade brands, including Divine Chocolate, are now also co-owned by the farmers and workers themselves.
Fairtrade standards also aim to protect the environment for us all. For example Fairtrade standards encourage more sustainable farming techniques and extra income offers farmers the chance to invest and experiment with sustainable farming methods that increase their income in the context of rising food and fuel costs.
Fairtrade offers the opportunity to ‘vote for a different world’ every day. With simple shopping choices we can support farmers in getting a better deal.
Lancaster has proudly been a Fairtrade District for over 15 years. Buying Fairtrade in Lancaster, Morecambe & District is easy, as many shops, supermarkets and other businesses sell Fairtrade products. For further information visit www.lancasterfairtrade.org.uk