Fair trade is all about producers benefiting from a fair wage and not being exploited. It guarantees farmers, for example, a minimum income, enabling them to buy food for their family, access healthcare and send their children to school to receive education. See www.fairtrade.org.uk
Fairtrade products can be things like coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, honey, chocolate and juice.
Here at Dorchester Community church we use ‘Fair trade’ tea and coffee for refreshments after our services… In 2002, sales of ‘Fairtrade’ products grew by 50%.
“Why should we use ‘Fairtrade’ products instead of other brands…?”
• 30, 000 people in our world die every day through poverty, 20% of the world still live on less than 60p per day, so we should do all we can do help alleviate this. Moreover we know of God’s heart for the poor
• The Bible also speaks of God’s people fighting for justice. See Lev 19:35, 1 Kings 21, Neh 5, Prov 13:23, Is 58:3, Jer 22:13, Amos 5:1-5, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 6:11, Acts 6, James 5: 4-5
• Dorchester has recently become a ‘Fair trade’ town, so we feel it would be good to see the Churches taking a lead here, reflecting what is right by what we practise.
“What if the taste is horrible…?”
There has been a vast improvement in the quality of ‘Fair trade’ products over recent years. Many people even prefer the taste of these products now.
“Does the money actually reach where it should…?”
Again there has been huge moves forwards here. The increased professionalism of missionary organisations in the Third World helps to ensure that the money goes where it should. ‘Tradecraft’ is an example of this, being set up as a Christian response to poverty in 1979. They buy from poor people, and also help them win their fair share of the world trade enabling them to build better lives.
More of the background…
The ‘Fairtrade’ mark was introduced to ensure a better deal for growers and small scale producers in developing countries. These people have often found that because of their remoteness or size of operation they are unable to obtain a fair price for their products. They have been marginalised by international trading, and often been vulnerable to dishonest ‘middle’ men.
‘Fair trade’ strengthens the position of poor producers, enabling them to find solutions and to tackle their poverty.
For growers fair trade means prices that always cover the cost of production and allow for sustainable livelihoods, no matter how low the world price goes. For workers fair trade means decent working conditions, and wages that meet the international and local labour standards. Workers and growers decide democratically how to spend their extra income, making participation and joint responsibility of key importance.
Change does not happen overnight, and ‘Fairtrade’ is no quick fix, but where we are able to help to bring change for the good of others we should do all we can…