Of the 2.6 billion people living on less than $2 a day, 70 percent are in rural areas. Many of them are small-scale farmers who struggle to feed their families and to maintain ownership of their land. Hired workers are often denied basic employment rights and fair wages, unable to escape poverty no matter how hard they work. Fluctuations in world market prices often hit small farmers the hardest because they don’t have the resources to absorb changes to their income. With Fair Trade, farmers are able to break this cycle and create safeguards for their own survival. Fair Trade Certified is a market-based model for alleviating global poverty—an alternative to dependency on aid—where farmers are given the tools to raise themselves out of poverty. Farming organizations use premiums and revenue for social good in their communities, to help themselves and those around them.
- Fair Trade is driven by consumer demand for products that are grown without harming people or the environment.
- Fair Trade certification empowers farming organizations to use international trade to address the problems of poverty.
- The Fair Trade premium is reserved specifically for community projects. Democratically organized farmers and workers elect how to best invest these community development funds, based on their own local needs.
- Fair Trade premiums have helped farmers’ family members start their own businesses to supplement family income, financed roads and disaster relief programs, and home improvements and purchases.
- Fair Trade premiums have helped bring clean water and additional food sources to villages, as many organizations deliver benefits to the community beyond just members and other farmers.
- Many producers are able to diversify into alternative sources of income, such as planting new crops or purchasing sewing and weaving machines. Having multiple sources of income provides economic security even in a volatile market.
- Members of cooperatives have been able to build new homes, and provide running water and electricity to existing ones.
- Some cooperatives have created support networks for elders including pension funds, health care and special holiday services.
- Fair Trade cooperatives subsidize projects in livestock raising, fruit and vegetable gardens, and medicinal plants to be used by the community.
- Producer organizations have constructed roads and bridges that connect the communities to the outside world.
- Several cooperatives have created local radio stations to broadcast important information to the town.
- Fair Trade cooperatives have financed the installation of electricity in villages that previously had no access.