Why should we support Fairtrade in Carlow?

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Many people are familiar with the term “Fairtrade” and Carlow has been a Fairtrade town since 2007. But are people aware of what the positive impact of choosing Fairtrade can be?
For many years questions have been raised globally on worker’s rights and working conditions in some of the poorest communities in the world. Fairtrade has recognised this and has produced a certain set of standards to support these people and their livelihoods. The outcome – everybody benefits including the consumer, the trader and the environment. The World Fairtrade Organisation has defined Fairtrade as “a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the Global South.

For example, stable prices are a positive outcome for these people. For most products there is a Fairtrade Minimum Price that aims to cover the costs of sustainable production – even when world market prices fall. Additionally, a Fairtrade Premium helps producers to improve the quality of their own lives. This premium is paid on top of the agreed Fairtrade price, and producers decide democratically how to use it. Typically they invest it in education, healthcare, farm improvements or processing facilities to increase income. Partnership – Producers are involved in decisions that affect their future. Fairtrade certified producers jointly own and manage Fairtrade International. Through the Fairtrade International’s Board, its Committees and consultation processes, producers can influence prices, premiums, standards and overall strategy. Finally, Empowerment of farmers and workers is essential. This is a goal of Fairtrade. Small farmer groups must have a democratic structure and transparent administration in order to be certified. Workers must be allowed to have representatives on a committee that decides on the use of the Fairtrade Premium. Both groups are supported by Fairtrade International to develop their capacity in this area.

There have been significant developments made by Fairtrade in recent years concerning farmers in the developing world. The future is also looking bright with a new strategy for 2016-2020 titled – “Changing Trade, Changing Lives” outlining the organisations plans. This can be viewed in full on the website at http://www.fairtarde.ie.
The ambitious but achievable strategy is closely aligned with the UN Global Goals where the strategy sets out a vision on how fairer trade can make meaningful contributions to the tough issues in trade and inclusive development the world faces today.

The 2016-2020 strategy is focused on:
• Building benefits for smallholders and workers.
• Deepening impact through services and programmes.
• Building Fairtrade markets.
• Influencing government policies.
• Building a strong global system.

It is clear that Fairtrade is a very empowering organisation and it can be supported locally in Carlow. Some of the business which support Fairtrade include the Chic & Cheerful Charity Shop, SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, LIDL, ALDI, Tesco, RATH’s, O’ Keefe’s, Keenan’s Gala, The Health Store (Tullow Street) and Alive & Well Health Store (Fairgreen), Tullys, Teach Dolmen, Country Kitchen, Costa Coffee, The Dome and many more. Additionally, the Carlow Fairtrade group are always looking for more help and ideas regarding promotion of the organisation. Chairperson Bernadette Power can be contacted on 087 903 1791.

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between some of the most disadvantaged farmers and workers in the developing world and the people who buy their products. There are over 1.4 million farmers and workers spread across more than 70 countries in the world participating in Fairtrade. So why not support these people by purchasing their produce and enjoy the fact that you will be ensuring secure and sustainable livelihoods and by fulfilling the producer’s potential to decide on their future… You will help the world and you will feel fantastic! Visit the Carlow Fairtrade Facebook page and follow it for more information and the latest updates in the community.

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