Fair Trade Products Essay.
Buying Fair Trade Products means buying a better future for everyone. While a cup of coffee may cost around $2. 00, less than $0. 50 goes to the farmers who planted, cultivated and harvested the beans that were ground to make that cup of coffee. $2. 00 is a cup of coffee for you and me but to the farmers in South America, $2. 00 can make the difference between how many meals the farmer and his family can eat. Buying fair trade products ensures that Jose and his children can have 3 square meals a day.
Coffee farmers around the world earn less than the cost of producing that single cup of coffee and because of this inequality they are forced into a cycle of poverty and debt (Fridell, 2003). Even when the price of coffee increases in the world market, the coffee farmers are not the ones who benefit from this but the exploitative business men and middle men.
The even more distressing fact is that this isn’t limited to coffee alone but also to other commodities such as tea, chocolate, cocoa, bananas, mangoes, grapes, apples and crafts.
Nicholls, 2004). Support for Fair Trade Products means that these farmers are not forced in a cycle of poverty and debt. Fair Trade means that these farmers actually have a chance at getting a better future because Fair Trade provides funding, in the form of loans, and also provides technical training and education to these farmers. Yes I want to help, but what is Fair Trade? Fair Trade is a “trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.
It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade” (European Fair Trade Association). What Fair Trade basically does is that ensures that the hard working farmers who grow these products are rewarded for their hard work and given the opportunity to build better futures for themselves and earn a ticket out of poverty.
How can I make sure these Farmers get the benefits? With most of the countries pushing for free trade, the situation of these farmers will only get worse. Companies in search of lower expenses and higher profits will always look for the cheapest source even if it is at the expense of others. Supporting Fair Trade Products ensures that the farmers are able to reap the benefits of their hard work because producers who are part of Fair Trade are able to gain access to technical assistance and education as well as funding to encourage the growth of their farms and to improve the efficiency in production (Fridell, 2003).
Global Impact of Fair Trade Fair Trade works. A study conducted by Loraine Ronchi of the Poverty Research Unit at the University of Sussex in 2002 shows that “in light of the coffee crisis of the early 1990s, fair trade can be said to have accomplished its goal of improving the returns to small producers and positively affecting their quality of life and the health of the organizations that represent them locally, nationally and beyond” (Ronchi, 2002).
In seven case studies conducted by the Fair Trade Research Group at Colorado State University in 2003, it was shown that Fair Trade has “in a short time greatly improved the well-being of small-scale coffee farmers and their families”(Murray, 2003) . These studies found that there was greater access to credit and external development funding, greater access to training and enhanced ability to improve the quality of their coffee for producers under Fair Trade.
Fair Trade certification guarantees not only fair prices, but also the principles of ethical purchasing, making sure that there are no labor violations by the companies and that there is a greater transparency throughout the supply chain (Ransom, 2001). There is no doubt that Fair Trade presents a viable solution to much of the worlds development problems and that continued support for Fair Trade products will transform the world into a better place for everyone to live in.
Arguments against Fair Trade Those who argue that Fair Trade doesn’t work insist that Fair Trade just encourages inefficiency and makes these farmers dependent on subsidies that are given to them while those who are innovative and efficient are left to their own devises and even penalized (Redfern, 2002). This is a very myopic view of the problem because it assumes that everyone deals honestly and that the middle men do not take advantage of the producers.
World Statistics show that during the period from 1970 to 2000, prices for many of the main agricultural exports of developing countries, such as sugar, cotton, cocoa and coffee fell by 30 to 60 percent (Agricultural Commodity Chains, Dependence and Poverty, 2004). This was due to the fact that there was no market intervention and the prices were left to the determination of market forces. The situation has only greatly improved due to the intervention done by Fair Trade as it has helped resurrect many ailing industries by spearheading the development of these industries through direct support of producers under Free Trade (Murray, 2003).
It cannot therefore be argued that Fair Trade results in inefficiency in the production of these products. The argument of inefficiency is also weakened by a study conducted in 2005 on Bolivian Coffee Fair Trade Producers as it was shown that certification led to a positive impact on local coffee prices in Yungas not just on Fair Trade certified products but on all products as well (Eberhart, 2005). Yes, you. Even a student can make a difference in the world For every single pound of coffee purchased, Fair Trade ensures that the farmer gets a more substantial amount than he normally would without the benefit of Fair Trade.
The extra $0. 50 that the farmer gets per pound of coffee that he sells goes a long way in a developing economy. Add to this the fact that by promoting and encouraging Fair Trade the farmer is able to secure loans and get much needed technical assistance and education, that single cup of coffee you purchase or that pound of coffee you buy, allows the farmer who planted, cultivated and harvested those grains to buy an extra pound of rice or corn and maybe even an extra meal. More Fair Trade Products on Campus If a single student can make a difference, then a whole campus can make a world of difference.
There should be more support for Fair Trade Products. Coffee is not the only product that is currently being protected by Fair Trade. There are currently many other goods that are being protected by fair trade: tea, chocolate, cocoa, bananas, mangoes, grapes, apples, soccer balls, and crafts. The next time you go out and buy yourself a cup of coffee or decide to munch on an apple before class, remember that you can make a difference, you can give Jose and his family a better and brighter future. Remember Fair Trade.