Fair Trade Treats
October is Fair Trade Month. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to hand out Fair Trade Treats for Halloween this year? Fair Trade goods are available in many retail outlets and are widely available on many Internet websites, like this one. The variety off fair trade goods is varied; from fair trade certified candy and divine chocolate, to fruit, to coffee, tea and even gourmet chocolate covered coffee beans.
Fair Trade Associations are working to improve the lot of farmers in Africa, South America and Asia by making sure that the farmers who grow the raw food are paid a fair amount for their goods. Historically, the farmer has received the smallest share of the profits which come from the crops they grow. In recent years the problem has been compounded by the growing demand for crops like cocoa, coffee, tea and fruit. The farmers receive such a small amount of money for their crops that they are unable to pay laborers to work in the fields. This has forced them to resort to taking their own children out of school and using them in the fields. In addition, these farmers are making use of other children as slave labor to cultivate and harvest their crops.
Farmers are also resorting to unsustainable methods of farming, breaking down the ecosystem by the overuse of insecticides and pesticides and by failing to rotate crops. The water supply and even the air supply of the communities close to the farms are filled will chemicals that are hazardous to both humans and wildlife. By failing to rotate crops, the farms destroy the biodiversity of the plant and animal life. Other poor farming practices deplete the land further, which does not bode well for the future of these farmers or their crops.
The Fair Trade Association works to assure a fair trade for these farmers in exchange for a return to better farming practices from the farmers. The farmers are required to certify that they have not used child or slave labor in the cultivation of their crops. Several pesticides and insecticides are banned from use in fair trade crops. Organic farming is also encouraged. If a farmer can provide certification that his crops are organically grown, he will receive a higher price for his crops.
Fair Trade associations work with artisans and farmers in Africa, South America and Asia to provide a living wage for the farmers and artisans. They promote equal employment opportunity practices, safe and healthy work areas and practices, environmentally sustainable farming and production practices, and public accountability.
Fair Trade practices are working. In the past eight years, farmers in Africa, South America and Asia have added an additional $67 million to their income each year for goods they have marketed through fair trade programs. Fair trade organizations minimize the middle-man, thereby allowing more of the profits from the goods to go to the farmers and artisans. In return for this added profit, farmers and artisans are encouraged to put part of their earnings back into their communities to help build health clinics, schools and other community services.
So, treat your Trick or Treaters to some Fair Trade Treats. By handing out fair trade certified candy, divine chocolate and fruit we can assure a fair deal for hundreds of thousands of farmers, artisans and their families world wide. In addition, through the fair trade practices of integrated crop management and organic cultivation, and the reduced use of pesticides and insecticides, the ecosystems of these severely depleted areas can begin to recover.