Fairtrade certification, is a system of checking whether commodity producer organisations comply with a set of fairtrade standards. The commodities produced under these standards are then traceable to the products you and I consume. The fairtrade label is the guarantee that the standards have been met.
The fairtrade standards are complex and detailed, but their main benefits for producers are:
- guaranteeing a minimum price is paid to the producer organisation;
- providing an additional Fairtrade Premium which is invested in development projects in the producer community;
- ensuring production processes do not cause environmental damage;
- protecting labour standards, including prohibiting child labour.
Is fairtrade certification enough?
In our experience, the answer as a clear “no”. A commitment to long term change in the lives of poor producers will take much more than a few additional resources to producer organisations and some basic protections for workers and the environment. If only it was that simple. That is why we are committed to “better than fair” which means: long term relationships with producer communities, working with them to understand their needs and partnering together for long term change. No doubt this is the aspiration of many in the fairtrade movement, but sadly not all who jump on the certification bandwagon share that commitment.
“We cannot let our radical vision of a completely different way of doing business be watered down by opportunistic transnationals”, writes Albert Tuckers, former director of fair trade company Twin Trading. “The fair trade mark should be regarded as a ‘badge of honour’ not just a brand of food that demonstrates you are paying a little more to desperate farmers.” (New Internationalist, Nov, 2006)