Choosing Fairtrade for those products we cannot produce locally (tea, coffee, chocolate, rice, spices etc.) is the best way of ensuring that trade takes place fairly and in the lowest-carbon ways possible, and of enabling farmers to make the transition towards a more sustainable balance between trade and local production.
Ten reasons to buy Fairtrade
Sustainable production for small-scale farmers
Fairtrade mainly supports small-scale farmers, and there is evidence to show that small farms are more sustainable than large-scale farms, reducing soil erosion, using water more efficiently, increasing biodiversity and preserving soil fertility. The Fairtrade price ensures that small farmers are not taken over by unsustainable agribusinesses or by logging companies.
Lower carbon forms of transport
The vast majority of Fairtrade products are transported by ship, which has a carbon footprint approximately 100 times less per tonne than air or road freight. A very small number of perishable seasonal products, such as flowers and green beans, are transported in the hold of passenger planes. Whilst it may be preferable to eat only locally produced vegetables, it is worth noting that flowers grown in hothouses in the Netherlands have a carbon footprint five times greater than that of flowers grown in natural sunlight in Kenya, even taking the air freight into account.
Investment in low-carbon technologies
Fairtrade farmers are required to meet a set of environmental standards which include incremental changes towards low-carbon production, and these standards are monitored on a regular basis. Farmers receive a premium on top of the price they are paid, which is often the only means by which farmers can invest in alternative technologies to reduce their reliance on oil-based chemical fertilisers, wood fuel etc
Reduced use of chemicals and improved management of natural resources
Environmental targets are set for reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and managing resources such as water, forests, etc. This means that environmental management is continually improving, and many Fairtrade farms are now able to farm organically
Protection of the rainforests
Traditional farming methods in the rainforests have usually involved ‘slash and burn’ which was once a sustainable way of farming, but has become increasingly unsustainable as the rainforests are being destroyed for logging or intensive farming. By intercropping traditional crops with cash crops that grow naturally in the rainforest, such as cocoa and brazil nuts, farmers are able to make a living from the rainforest without destroying it
Increased possibilities for local production
The financial security that comes with the Fairtrade price and the added Fairtrade premium mean that farmers are able to use some of their land to diversify and grow crops for local consumption, enabling them to progress towards a sustainable balance between trade and local production
Greater equality and democratic processes within communities
Fairtrade farmers are required to form co-operatives not only to strengthen their bargaining power with buyers but also to ensure democratic decision-making. This has especially benefitted women, who were previously often excluded from the decision-making process and are now treated as equals.
Communities learning from each other
Fairtrade has brought diverse communities from different parts of the world together in a single movement with shared aims. This has enabled cross-fertilisation of ideas and a sharing of knowledge, often facilitated through the international organisation Fairtrade International (www.fairtrade.net) which sets the Fairtrade standards and supports producers. It has also brought producers and consumers closer together as we can learn more about the lives of people who produce our food.
Access to training and advice
The support offered by Fairtrade International and the opportunities for learning from each other have enabled communities to explore more sustainable ways of farming and how to develop resilience to peak oil and climate change.
Fairtrade is fair to farmers because it prevents buyers from passing all the risks associated with fluctuations on the international market onto the farmer. It is fair to whole communities, because they all benefit from the Fairtrade premium and all farmers have an equal say in how it is spent. It is particularly fair to children since not only is child slave labour totally banned (and monitored), it is only the Fairtrade price that ensures producers are able to pay their workers and are not therefore financially dependent on slave labour in order to survive. p>