Image credit: Matthew Willman/OxfamAUS
So what’s the deal with Fair Trade?
Author | Oxfam Australia
Fair Trade is an international certification system working to improve conditions for millions of producers around the world.
Under the Fair Trade system, farmers are paid a decent price for their goods. It also seeks to provide them with greater job security, helping farmers to produce in more sustainable and ecological ways. Fair Trade also improves standards of living through community healthcare, education, training and assistance with business matters.
Oxfam fair was created as a way to bring premium, quality Fair Trade products to as many people as possible so they could help make a difference to growers, communities and the wider work that Oxfam Australia carries out around the world.
Here are some stories about where Oxfam’s Fair Trade produce comes from, the people that grow, harvest and produce it and the difference it is making to their communities.
“When women take control of their own lives, the whole family benefits. This has often been proven. My name is Georgina, and along with 45,000 other cocoa farmers I belong to the Ghanaian cocoa cooperative Kuapa Kokoo.
Kuapa Kokoo gets a good price for our cocoa, especially when it manages to sell to fair-trade organisations. Farmers do use the weighing scales at Kuapa Kokoo, which is unusual in Ghana. Brokers often fiddle with the scales to cheat the farmers.
Kuapa Kokoo is the only Ghanaian cocoa producers’ organisation that is in the hands of the farmers themselves. The fair-trade premium goes into a fund which is used for all kinds of projects. For instance, we now have a water pump in our village. Clean drinking water at last! And there’s a mobile clinic: doctors and nurses come at set times to give farmers medical examinations and to explain about health matters.”
“The region where I live in north-east Paraguay is called Arroyos y Esteros, which means “salt marshes and creeks”. Most of the families here have little land – only one to five hectares.
We grow mainly sugar cane, but also some pineapple and stevia, a sweetener. We have switched to organic farming because there is a high demand for organic cane sugar. Our cooperative Manduvirá has worked hard to be able to export cane sugar to the fair-trade market. And it’s tastier!
For example, we want to set up our own quality control department because yields on small farms need to increase if they are to remain viable. So we are looking for alternatives like growing yucca plants, better sugar cane varieties and improved fertiliser use. We have used the fair-trade premium to plant a fruit tree nursery and build premises for the cooperative. But our biggest dream is to process our sugar ourselves so that we don’t depend on a factory. So we started to construct a sugar refinery this year.
The older members who lived under a dictatorship for many years now realise how they can help themselves to progress thanks to fair trade. Fair trade gave us confidence to take control of our own lives and make our dreams come true!”
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Oxfam Australia works to bring about positive change in the lives of people living in poverty. Oxfam’s GROW campaign is working to change the fact that almost 870 million people go to bed hungry every night, not because there isn’t enough food, but because of deep injustices in the global food system. Oxfam has contributed articles on Fair Trade and Food Security to the Foodwise website.