Fair Trade - a different approach to global trade


About Fair Trade

Fair Trade in context



Fair Trade – a different approach to global trade

Gandhi once said to ‘be the change’ you want to see in the world. Today, thanks to Fair Trade you can now buy the change.

• Fairness
• Dignity
• Profit
• Quality

These are not conflicting terms. The Fair Trade concept is beneficial to both the producer
and the consumer. Companies that decide to buy Fair Trade products attract ethical
consumers and sell high-quality products. The Fair Trade price in turn leads to sustainable
in the producer’s community.

Fair Trade is a market-driven commercial model, not a charity or developmental aid mechanism. It is a growing trend for development based upon improved trading relationships and commercial opportunities. Fair Trade empowers producers and guarantees higher quality products for consumers.
Marginalized producers become more involved with the global and local economy. This involvement results in better living and working conditions for farmers, which, in turn, will encourage greater equity in international trade.
Fair Trade is a global network that brings together several hundreds of thousands of small-scale producers and workers on plantations and in factories, thousands of trading and retail companies, NGOs and labeling organizations into an organized trading system reaching tens of millions of consumers.

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"In the end, what Fair Trade is about is working with marginalized producers – people on the edge of the international trading system. It’s bringing them in and building their sustainability, their understanding of selling and trading and allowing them to survive often in situations where they probably wouldn’t. What Fair Trade brings is a long-term relationship and the ability to plan ahead. So it’s about empowerment and the growth of output and quality for the groups and to get to a point where they no longer need to engage with the Fair Trade relationship."

Diana Gayle, The Fairtrade Foundation (2003) as quoted in Nichols and Opal p.3

Costa Rican Co-op El Dos member Alba Luz picking ripe coffee cherries

Photo courtesy of Amy Hansen


For further information about these images, please contact Max Havelaar France.


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Case in point:
Oro Verde Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera

Oro Verde is a coffee-producing co-operative under the shade of the Amazon Jungle in Lamas, Peru. Oro Verde was founded in 1999 by 56 coffee-growing families. By 2005 Oro Verde grew to 450 associates organized in 18 democratic sectional committees. The small-scale coffee producers are united to confront the needs and economic problems within their communities as well as to establish and implement social and cultural programs. Their vision is to sustain an increasing socio-economic level and cultural awareness of its member families and their respective communities. They believe in the success of their business because they produce a high quality product, free of contaminants in accord with the environment.

Oro Verde consists of people from many different groups. The members are people of Amazonian origins, descendants of the Chanka ethnos, and immigrants from the Andean zone. Yet despite their ethnic difference, they are united under the common goal of producing coffee to the highest standards. Many communities like Oro Verde now have their own scales and warehouses, which make them more independent and less susceptible to fraud. Although there has been regional progress, only Oro Verde and several other co-operatives have their own cuppers, specially trained individuals that enable autonomous quality-control.

Fair Trade co-operatives are revolutionizing the coffee-trade in Peru. Not only is Oro Verde constantly gaining new members, but it has been able to expand its product range to include cocoa and sugar cane. Additionally, the coffee it produces is of superior quality. In 2002 and 2003 Oro Verde’s coffee respectively won the Silver and Golden Grain Awards.

“We strive to be a model company, proprietary united, democratically controlled, and based on the cooperative principle where all members believe in the same ethical values.”

The Manager of Oro Verde Hiderico Bocangel Zavala came to speak at Mount Holyoke College.
For more information click here or read the information brochure: Oro Verde Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera ‘ De Lamas al Mundo’.

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Coffee growing within a diverse forest ecosystem under the shade canopy

Photo courtesy of CECOCAFEN

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