What is Fairtrade? –
Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement known as fairtrade indicating the certification advocates the payment of a higher price to exporters as well as higher social and environmental standards.
Fairtrade branding has extended beyond food and fibre, a development that has been particularly vibrant in the UK where there are 500 Fairtrade Towns, 118 Fairtrade universities, over 6,000 Fairtrade churches, and over 4,000 UK schools registered in the Fairtrade Schools Scheme.
“fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair trade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”
definition developed by FINE
Fair trade textiles are primarily made from fair trade cotton. They are frequently grouped with fair trade crafts and goods made by artisans in contrast to cocoa, coffee, sugar, tea, and honey, which are agricultural commodities.
India and West Africa are the primary exporters of fair trade cotton, although many countries grow fair trade cotton. Textiles and clothing are exported from Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Labor is different for textile production than for agricultural commodities because textile production takes place in a factory, not on a farm. Children provide a source of cheap labor, and child labor is prevalent in Pakistan, India, and Nepal. Fair trade cooperatives ensure fair and safe labor practices, including disallowing child labor. Fair trade textile producers are most often women in developing countries. They struggle with meeting the consumer tastes in North America and Europe. In Nepal, textiles were originally made for household and local use. In the 1990s, women began joining cooperatives and exporting their crafts for profit. Now handicrafts are Nepal’s largest export. It is often difficult for women to balance textile production, domestic responsibilities, and agricultural work. Cooperatives foster the growth of democratic communities in which women have a voice despite being historically in underprivileged positions. For fair trade textiles and other crafts to be successful in western markets, World Fair Trade Organisations require a flexible workforce of artisans in need of stable income, links from consumers to artisans, and a market for quality ethnic products. However, making cotton and textiles fair trade does not always have a positive impact on laborers. Burkina Faso and Mali export the largest amount of cotton in Africa. Although many cotton plantations in these countries attained fair trade certification in the 1990s, participation in fair trade further ingrains existing power relations and inequalities that cause poverty in Africa rather than challenging them. Fair trade does not do much for farmers when it does not challenge the system that marginalizes producers. Despite not empowering farmers, the change to fair trade cotton has positive effects including female participation in cultivation.
Forced or unfair labor in textile production is not limited to developing countries. Charges of use of sweatshop labor are endemic in the United States. Immigrant women work long hours and receive less than minimum wage.
Following are companies that use fair trade production and/or distribution techniques for clothing and textiles:
- Maggie’s Organics
- Cherie Amie
- Ten Thousand Villages
- HAE Now
- Good & Fair Clothing Co.
- Fair Indigo
- American Apparel
- Y’abal Handicrafts
Compared with conventional trade, fair trade reduces vulnerability of farmers and limits environnemental damage.
My Views –
- Fairtrade is better than conventional trade as it reduces the vulnerability of farmers and limits environmental damage.
- Fairtrade gets farmers a better price for their goods than conventional trade.
- Promotes sustainability and strengthens communities.
- Ensures fair and safe labour practises.
- Disallows child labour.
- Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.