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The ever-quotable Oscar Wilde said: ‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all’. Twenty years ago, Fairtrade burst onto Britain’s shop shelves with just such a dangerous idea: that farmers and workers in developing countries should be paid a fair price, that they needed a better deal – and that we, the companies and consumers in Britain should pay for the true value of our cocoa, coffee or bananas.
As the FAIRTRADE Mark celebrates its 20th birthday, 19-year-old Hannah Genders Boyd shares her story, exploring the challenges and opportunities that lay in the next two decades…
In a previous life I worked with community groups raising money to support people living with dementia. Their passion stemmed from watching their beloved family members change in front of their eyes, ravaged by a disease with no cure. Before working for Fairtrade, I thought the depth of feeling couldn’t be as strong, as the beneficiaries of the Fairtrade system are so geographically removed from campaigners in the UK. I was wrong. The UK has one of the most powerful networks of Fairtrade campaigners, volunteering their time in towns, schools and places of worship to promote Fairtrade products and values throughout the community. Their passion for the farmers and workers who produce our favourite products is overwhelming.
Back in 1994, the year that the FAIRTRADE Mark launched in the UK, I was working in southern Africa. After years when civil war seemed inevitable, there was a tangible sense that hope and peace would triumph over despair, as the era of Apartheid came to an end. That same spirit of optimism was present too when three far-sighted brands – Green & Blacks, Cafédirect and Clipper tea – offered the first Fairtrade certified products in the UK.
The looming chocolate shortage is making headlines around the globe. Terrible, nightmarish forecasts predict a dark future – a future in which the chocolate we now enjoy will be expensive as caviar, and the rest of us will have to be content with “chocolate” containing so little cocoa that it actually bends.
If I were to describe Fair Trade Lebanon in a couple of sentences, I would say it is an organisation that strives to preserve and valorise the traditional Lebanese know-how of food preservation and transform it into an income-generating activity. With the help of other NGOs, Fair Trade Lebanon provides technical training to residents of villages, helps them to form co-operatives and use their know-how to come up with products that achieve export standards and are easily marketable. Along this journey, Fair Trade Lebanon also teaches co-operatives to work according to the values of fair trade, such as transparency, accountability and fair compensation. Finally, it conducts all marketing activities, from packaging to finding markets to exporting.
A couple of weeks ago I helped lead a group from the UK on a tour of the West Bank, visiting Fairtrade farmers and learning something about how the Israeli occupation affects the lives of Palestinians. The tour was organised by Zaytoun, the Community Interest Company that imports delicious olive oil, dates, maftoul and almonds from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Zaytoun celebrates its 10th birthday this week.
As the Fairtrade Foundation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Fairtrade Mark, Ian Bretman, independent advisor to three Fairtrade Producer Networks, takes a look back.
As part of a series of blogs exploring the value consumers place on ethical credentials, the Fairtrade Foundation’s Director of Public Engagement, Cheryl McGechie, kick-starts the discussion by asking how high you put responsibly sourced products on your shopping list… and what’s the value?
Find answers to some of the questions that are frequently asked about Fairtrade.
Ever wondered how many farmers and workers are involved with Fairtrade? Or how the Fairtrade Premium is used? Here's a snapshot from our latest data.
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.