Published on December 2nd, 2011 | by Lynn Fang
Fair Trade Friday: 10 Businesses to Support
More extreme minimalists may support a No Gifts Christmas, but for most this may be too big a leap from convention. How can you safely transition from spending thousands of dollars on store-bought gifts this year to something a little more conscious, a little more earth and people-friendly?
Consider buying Fair Trade gifts this year.
What is Fair Trade?
From a big picture view, fair trade is about paying farmers a living wage, providing them healthcare and education, and preventing the use of child or slave labor.
- A minimum price is agreed upon by the Fair Trade Labelling Organization (FLO). This price floor is paid to the producer in case the world market price falls below the minimum that would still cover the cost of production as well as provision for the fammily members and farm maintenance. This guarantees producers a living, allows them to plan for the future, and invest in long-term business strategies.
- Fair Trade prefers co-operative dealings instead of the more common competitive approach. Small scale farmers are nearly always organized into co-operatives that work strictly democratically, one person, one vote. Collectively they are able to implement larger projects focused on technology, education and the enhancement of their living standard. This approach maintains the dignity of the producers and empowers them to actively ameliorate their situation instead of being dependent on outside help.
- Sustainable production is tied together with the Fair Trade concept. Although obtaining certification is a slow expensive process due to an overload of work for the respective agencies, many farmers obtain organic certification. This makes them eligible for a higher Fair Trade floor price and increases the quality of their products. Moreover, it is imperative for all Fair Trade farmers to abstain from the use of certain pesticides and to work with resource management plans in the co-operatives.
Divine chocolate was born from a small farmer co-operative in Ghana, the Kuapa Kokoo, and is the only Fair Trade chocolate company where farmers take 45% ownership. Company ownership allows farmers a greater share of profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry. Kuapa Kokoo has invested its Fair Trade income in building schools, sinking wells for clean drinking water to villages, providing mobile medical clinics for farmers in remote growing regions, and fostering women’s income generation projects to help women earn additional income for their families when the cocoa season is over.
[Image used with permission by Divine Chocolate]