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Sustainable Food Guide
Environmental Practice at Work © 2005 Link:EP@W Ltd Web Site


 Fair Trade Issues...

'Fair Trade' means an equitable and fair partnership between traders and producers. Most traders are in the developed world, while many producers are in the developing, or underdeveloped world.

Food is part of a global food chain. We can purchase food from all over the world that has travelled through several thousand supply chains. Small farmers often work in co-operatives and sell their produce to local middleman in order to access this global market. Rural economies in developing countries such as Africa, Asia and Latin America should benefit from global trading; yet most food producers in the developing world are paid a pittance compared with developed world prices.

Often the costs of food production are minimal compared with travel, packaging and mark ups along each stage in the food chain. Exporters, importers, processors and packers all take their income from the supply chain. The small farmer often receives too little to live and plan a life.

There are 2 issues for fair trade:
The price paid to the small farmers for their produce.

The wage paid to workers in factories and on plantations.

Wake up and smell the Coffee
Coffee is the second (after oil) most traded commodity in the world, yet the majority of coffee is grown by small farmers on their own land working in co-operatives. There has always been tendency to overproduce coffee. The International Coffee Agreement was established to set quotas and keep the price stable till the end of the 80's. However since the demise of communist Russia, the USA abandoned the Agreement, and attempts by producers to limit themselves have failed. Brazil has intensified production and Vietnam, encouraged by the World Bank, has leapt from nowhere to become the 2nd largest producer. Prices of coffee have plummeted to about a 1/4 of when the Agreement operated. The crisis has hit many small coffee producers hard.

Other produce grown in small rural economies include cocoa, bananas, honey and sugar . Workers on plantations often receive subsistence income from long hours in the fields and processing plants. Women are particularly used as cheap labour on many plantations.


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