Sunday, May 22, 2005

FairTrade Goes Continental

About 50 South African small-scale agricultural producers and exporters that carry the internationally-recognised FairTrade label last weekend formed a local chapter and joined the African FairTrade Network.

FairTrade is an independent global consumer label that provides a better deal for small-scale producers and workers in developing countries. Products that carry the label have a premium on their price, which consumers, particularly in Europe and the United Kingdom, are willing to pay in the interest of more equitable trading relations.

In the United Kingdom last year sales of FairTrade food and drink products reached £140-million, a 50% increase on 2003 sales. Other products range from roses to soccer balls.

The labelling system is supervised by the FairTrade Foundation, which investigates each applicant ahead of approval under its strict compliance rules. Ongoing monitoring ensures that labour-friendly work practices and sustainable agricultural methods are maintained.

On average South African members receive between R150 000 and R250 000 a year in repatriated premiums for their products. This money is re-invested in the community.

On a FairTrade farm in Sunday’s Valley near Addo in the Eastern Cape, that money is used to pay a nurse to attend to about 260 women seasonal workers before and after work.

The African FairTrade Network, which has informally existed since 1998 but was formalised last year, has about 20 producer members outside South Africa in countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Mail & Guardian

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