Shop for Change Fair Trade (www.shopforchange.in), a not-for-profit social enterprise, is India’s first and only fair trade label – an on-product mark of assurance that small farmers get a fairer deal and the environment is cared for. Shop for Change was incorporated in January 2009. Initially incubated by European Union and Traidcraft UK. Later in 2015, the organisation is restructured by young couple Saameer and Vrushali.
Shop for Change certifies small farmer and artisan groups against its fair trade standards and then enables them to sell directly to retailers/brands or even consumers, thus ensuring a win-win proposition for all. Since farmer and artisan groups are directly connected with mainstream buyers, farmers /artisans earn more income while buyers save as well.
The history of fair trade:
The fair trade movement draws on the same principles of the Khadi movement from the 1920s - those of self-reliance, empowerment and emancipation. Fair trade first started in the 1940s in Europe and the US where handicrafts were sold in NGO shops in support of disadvantaged communities. The modern fair trade movement began in the 1960s when Alternative Trading Organisations (ATOs) were launched and NGOs, such as Oxfam in the UK, began selling handicrafts purchased from producer co-operatives. India has a long been a part of this movement, with over 50 producer organisations exporting products under fair trade terms to Europe for over 40 years. During the 1980s the fall of global commodity prices pushed many marginalised farmers into terrible poverty, and the fair trade movement began to focus on agricultural commodities as a way of providing farmers with a sustainable income. More and more shoppers got behind products like fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa and bananas, supporting many thousands of poor farmers around the world. The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) was created in 1989 to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged producers by promoting and connecting fair trade organisations. Today, the WFTO is a global association of 324 organisations, including fair trade producer associations, producer marketing companies, retailers, fair trade networks and support organisations in over 60 countries. In India, Fair Trade Forum India works to carry WFTO's work forward.
Fair trade is a market-led solution to poverty which aims to use trade, not aid, to improve livelihoods for disadvantaged farmers and artisans and promote sustainability. Fair Trade is a tangible contribution to the fight against poverty and exploitation, climate change and the economic crisis that has the greatest impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations. The global crisis confirms the need for a fair and sustainable economy locally and globally. Trade must benefit the most vulnerable and deliver sustainable livelihoods by developing opportunities for small and disadvantaged producers. Fair Trade is a transparent trading system that supports economically marginalised people, fair prices, good working conditions, and long-term partnership through trade.
How Fair Trade can help farmers and artisans in India?
Till date no direct linkage is created to supply material from farmers to consumers, in spite of numerous systems was developed. Fair Trade certification is not taken seriously as it’s just a social value added and there is no direct value added to the product. Fair Trade needs to be restructured considering the Indian consumer in mind. If Fair Trade can avail products from farmers to consumers, then consumers will get a competitive price; and farmers will earn additional income instead middle man making high profits.
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