Small farmers face many hurdles in gaining access to today’s global marketplace. From getting access to credit for much needed business purchases, to middlemen who don’t pay fair prices for crops, to simply lacking knowledge of accounting procedures, small producers often cannot make enough to even cover their own costs. This is where Fair Trade comes in. By creating a system of producer cooperatives trained in the necessary skills, Fair Trade farmers are able to deal directly with the market buyers and demand a living wage. With portions of their revenue being continually reinvested, cooperatives are constantly building their capacities and farmers are becoming truly empowered to create change in their communities.
For disadvantaged farmers, access to affordable credit is elusive. But with Fair Trade, producer groups are able to make small loans to members for housing, medical needs, education, livestock and small businesses, at very low interest rates.
- With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
- By giving farmers and farm workers direct access to international markets, and the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive, Fair Trade makes sustainable local development possible.
- Fair Trade has empowered farmers to earn significantly higher incomes, and to build health, education and women’s programs benefiting an estimated five million people worldwide.
- Many cooperatives use the revenues and skills they’ve gained to invest in alternative sources of income, such as growing other crops or starting an ecotourism company.
- Fair Trade adds development potential, because it is not easy for small farmers to raise funds for investment and projects. The Fair Trade premium is the only source of capital the cooperative can build on.
- Fair Trade standards promote sustained economic viability by encouraging producers to organize as cooperatives and associations so they can work together to earn fair prices for themselves.
- The Fair Trade price allows farmers to earn a sustainable wage, that covers the cost of production as well as basic needs of the farmers, regardless of market fluctuations.
- Fair Trade certification enables farmers to earn better prices and development premiums for investment in community projects.
- Fair Trade purchases help small farmer associations by providing funds for re-development, asset investment and product quality improvements.