In turn, this leads to sustainable development and stable prices, enabling farmers to develop their businesses and improve communities, while investing in everyday needs such as healthcare and education. Fairtrade ANZ’s Operations Manager in Australia, Craig Chester, speaks to Karen Farrell about Fairtrade.
Our work in trying to tackle poverty through Fairtrade is not restricted to just chocolate production – it also extends to coffee, cotton, sugar and tea. Please provide us with an overview of how Fairtrade Certification works?
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, 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.
Fairtrade provides farmers and producers in developing countries with a fair price (the Fairtrade Price) for their produce, helping protect them from damaging fluctuations in world market prices. They also receive an additional sum of money (the Fairtrade Premium) for investment in social, economic and environmental development in their community, such as educational and medical facilities.
Every time you choose a product carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark, you are making the choice to give a fair go to farmers, workers and their communities in some of the world’s poorest countries.
With Easter fast approaching, people will be eager to buy chocolates for their children, family and friends; although, there are some sad realities behind chocolate manufacturing. Tell us about these realities.
Fairtrade Certification remains one of the best ways of tackling the serious issues of exploitative labour practices and the worst forms of child labour, which fundamentally stem from the endemic poverty faced by West African cocoa farmers and exacerbated by unjust terms of trade, conflict and extreme weather conditions, triggering forced migration. This is the reality that those on cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana have to deal with on a daily basis.
Fairtrade prohibits child labour as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO), minimum age and the worst forms of child labour conventions and is committed to fighting the root causes of child labour and proactively preventing abuse and exploitation of children.
We are working with Fairtrade producer communities to support a community based, child sensitive approach to identifying, remediating and preventing child labour. We are also supporting them to form partnerships with child rights NGOs, so that boys and girls in producer communities are agents of change and can help build more protective environments.
Your organisation works with farmers in developing countries. What is the general nature of this work, and how does it benefit the local community?
Today, more than six million people – farmers, producers, workers and their families – across 63 countries benefit from the unique, independent Fairtrade Certification system. Fairtrade ANZ has its own Producer Support and Relations (PSR) team, who facilitate training in local languages and provide guidance on Fairtrade Certification requirements – helping farmers to gain access to new markets, facilitating relationships with buyers, liaising with support agencies and promoting the development of a regional Fairtrade network In the Pacific in particular.
Fairtrade ANZ has engaged in the task of increasing the number of Fairtrade farmers based in the Pacific and the number of Fairtrade Certified™ products coming from the region to our supermarkets.
One specific example of how Fairtrade is benefitting a local community in the region is at the Adelberts cooperative in Papua New Guinea, which received Fairtrade Certification in 2010. In the first half of 2011, it began to sell its Fairtrade Certified cocoa to Monpi Cocoa Exports Limited of Madang. This partnership has provided Adelberts with access to the Fairtrade market. Members and their families now look forward to the economic security and opportunities for development provided by access to global markets through the Fairtrade System.
Through the Fairtrade Premium they will receive, Adelberts is looking to invest in a local school and contribute to local road construction projects.
What could people consider when purchasing chocolate this Easter …
Poverty is widespread amongst cocoa growers around the world, who face an uncertain future due to unstable world prices. In recent years, volatile prices worldwide have left many disadvantaged producers struggling to support themselves and their families.
By choosing Fairtrade Certified chocolate this Easter, you’re helping create a better and brighter future for farmers, workers and their families through the fair price they receive, as well as additional funds to develop their communities and invest in everyday needs like education and healthcare.
What sort of Easter products can people expect to purchase when buying Fairtrade?
There are a range of different Easter products available this year from Cadbury, Chocolatier, Cocolo, Divine, Lindsay & Edmunds, Oxfam Shop and Xocolatl. Go to our website for stockists and to see the full range available – www.fairtrade.com.au
Where can people purchase Fairtrade Certified products?
Fairtrade Certified products are available from most major and independent supermarkets, as well as online. Check the Easter page on our website for stockists of Easter specific products, and take a look at fairlylocal.com.au to search for Fairtrade Certified products in your area. Just look for the distinctive blue and green FAIRTRADE Mark on packaging.
Are Fairtrade Certified products more expensive than standard chocolate products?
In some markets, Fairtrade Certified products are the same price or cheaper than similar conventional products. The cost of the raw produce that is shipped, processed, packaged and marketed by others in the chain, represents a very small proportion of the cost that consumers pay. It is quite possible for companies to pay the additional costs of Fairtrade, without it being reflected in the retail price at all.
It is also important to compare like with like. We expect to pay more for higher quality products. You will find the price of Fairtrade Certified products is comparable with other similar quality products. If a Fairtrade product is targeted at the higher end of the market, then it is likely to cost a similar price to other high quality products.
How can consumers and individuals who are against trade injustice support Fairtrade?
The best way you can support Fairtrade is to buy products that carry the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark. By doing this, you help workers and farmers to earn a decent living and secure a better life for themselves.
Interview by Karen Farrell.