Fair Trade a-go-go: What You Need to Know…

Fairtrade certification is a product certification system designed to allow people to identify products that meet agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards.

Many attempts were made to market Fairtrade products in the 1960s and 1970s but Fairtrade sales only really took off with Fairtrade labelling in the late 1980s. Sales prior to labelling initiatives were contained to relatively small world operated by alternative trading organizations (ATOs) such as Oxfam and Traidcraft.

The first Fairtrade certification initiative was introduced in 1988 in the Netherlands by Nico Roozen and Fran van der Hoff and was called Max Havelaar stitching. The idea was to offer disadvantaged coffee farmers meeting certain social and environmental criteria above market price for their crops.

The initiative was a great success and was soon replicated under different titles in many places across the world. In 1997 however all these initiatives were united under one labelling system called Fairtrade Certification, as we now know it today.

There are a series of Fairtrade standards that producers must meet in order to become and remain Fairtrade certified. There are separate standards for small farmers’ organisation and for plantations that have hired staff. The focus of the standards for small farmers is to ensure the money is invested into growth of their farming capabilities and an emphasis on bettering the economy of neighbouring communities i.e. creating jobs.

For plantations with hired staff the standards asses the quality of life for the workers such as decent wages, sufficient health and safety measures and also ensuring there is no child labour involved in the production.

Any Fairtrade certified producer or trader is regularly inspected by the governing body of Fairtrade in order to maintain the high standards required to attain Fairtrade Labelling certification.

Fairtrade certified products now range from coffee to cotton with sales amounting to $4.08 billion worldwide in 2008. The industry is growing at a rate of 22% per year meaning that the sales are due to keep expanding and growing to a predicted $20-25 billion organisation in 2020.

If you’d like to find out more about Fairtrade here are a few useful links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairtrade

http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/coffee/

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