|The Beginning of Fair Trade
|The original premise of the Fair Trade program began with several religious and
humanitarian organizations coming together with the common goal of helping
impoverished workers in some of the worlds poorest regions.
|The idea was to help improve
wages and living conditions for
disadvantaged workers, help to
rebuild the lives of displaced refugees, and help
improve conditions following natural disasters.
In 1968 at the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development in Delhi, the message was
sent "trade not aid", which set the groundwork for
the phenomenal growth of Fair Trade that followed.
Five years later, in 1973 the first fairly traded
coffee was imported by
Fair Trade Organisatie
in the Netherlands, from
cooperatives of small
farmers in Guatemala.
|Today in the U.K. the bulk of merchandise sold consists of Fair Trade
food products. And in the U.S. food sales, which traditionally constitut-
ed less than 10% now represents over 30% of Fair Trade food pro-
The Fair Trade program was so successful that by the early 90's it had become an economic
model worldwide, administered by many different organizations. Key among them were these
four agencies considered to be the "founding fathers of Fair Trade":
these four main organizations came together to form FINE, an acronym based on the first letter
of each name.
|Fair Trade in Action
| The money earned as premiums from Fair Trade doesn't go
directly to the workers, but is invested back into the participat-
ing farm. This allows the producer to improve the infrastructure
and provide the workers with fair wages as well as improve
living conditions, and offer programs that improve the lives of
both workers and their families.
One example of Fair Trade in action is the Bogawantalawa
Estate in Sri Lanka. With over 45,000 acres of tea gardens, and over 16,000 workers, the
operation is the size of a small city.
The premiums earned by this huge tea es-
tate from the Fair Trade program enables it
to continually improve not only the tea gar-
dens, but the lives of their workers and
The Bogawantalawa Estate proudly offers
a number of programs to their workers,
everything from savings and loan programs,
to libraries, and computer learning centers.
They also provide mandatory schooling for
all children, and no child labor is ever allow-
ed. They even offer scholarship programs
for deserving students who excel at their
Another example of Fair Trade at work is the
Ambootia Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India, where in
1968 one of the largest
landslides in South Asia
caused part of the plant-
ation to go crashing into the valley below.
The first Fair Trade premiums were received in 1995 to help in
disaster relief and cleanup, as well as prevent further destruction to
the garden itself. Money also went to help stabilize the local econ-
omy, providing aid to displaced workers during the rebuilding of the
The cost of fairly traded tea amounts to just pennies at the cash
register, and it's doubtful you would even notice. But to the small farmers and producers, the
tea workers and their families, it sends a powerful and important message. Simply - we support
and appreciate your hard work and efforts to bring quality tea to our tables. Enjoy.
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