It prevents individual farmers, who may have no choice in who they sell their produce to, being the victim of unscrupulous buyers, or of being affected by falling world market prices which are totally outside their control.
The Fairtrade system only operates in developing countries, which is why Fairtrade products include tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas etc, rather than wheat or potatoes. It is estimated that there are now over 5 million families in more than 40 countries who are benefiting from fair trade, and whose day to day income is between 25 and 60% higher than it would otherwise be.
Fairtrade is not about charity. It is not charity to pay someone for doing a good job or to respect those who grow our food and produce our clothing. Neither is it charity to try and protect the 126 million children worldwide who work in illegal and hazardous conditions, or to improve the lives of the 1.2 billion people currently below the poverty line. Fairtrade supports cooperatives which give farmers a combined bargaining power. It insists on equality for?women within these cooperatives and communities and it gives self-respect to those who have become the victims of international trade agreements, unequal food subsidies and our desire for cheaper and cheaper products.
Fairtrade is exactly what it says it is – fair. How much of the price of a £1.99 bar of chocolate do you think goes to the farmer who grew the cocoa? Probably less than 1p. For a Fairtrade chocolate bar maybe 6p. Someone somewhere is really grateful for that extra 5p.