By Atrayee De (SustainabilityLeader)
What is Fairtrade?
The commonly misunderstood term Fairtrade can be simplified as the trade that promotes fairness and improves livelihoods for producers and workers by paying them fair prices that reflect the costs of production and enable them to have a decent standard of living. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
Why should it matter to you?
Fairtrade is all about making a difference and promoting rights. It has the potential of enabling individual producers and workers involved in the process to have an opportunity to enhance their working conditions, to improve the way they farm and manage their environment. With Fairtrade producers and workers can make sure their children are fed and can go to school. Communities can invest in clean water and better healthcare. This is growth both in terms of resource development as well as the promotion of human rights.
Tea as an example of a Fairtrade Product
Fairtrade Foundation classifies tea as the most popular drink in the world after water with an estimated 70,000 cups being drunk every second. Another fascinating fact about tea is that it has been controversial for a long time when it comes to Fairtrade. Farmers and workers around the world struggle to get a fair deal. As many have said, behind the brew, real people are facing low wages, discrimination, and the hard choices living in poverty and deprivation. One in four children in Kenya’s tea and coffee-growing regions are malnourished, leading to stunted growth. One in 10 children in the tea-growing regions of Malawi dies before their fifth birthday.
Fairtrade in Tea has improved the situation in India
Leading by example is India. The Thiashola Tea Estate state is located in Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, the main tea growing area of south India. It was certified organic in 2003 and Fairtrade certified in January 2008. The estate extends to 190 hectares (470 acres) at an average altitude of 2,000 (6,500 ft) metres and employs around 400 workers, mostly female tea pluckers. It has ever since its certification had an annual production of around 4.5 million kg (4,500 tonnes) of black and green tea, with around 60% of sales going to the Fairtrade market. Such examples highlight that Fairtrade is effective and it should be promoted so that all plantations across the world can make progress.
For these reasons, it becomes necessary for us to promote Fairtrade, to improve lives and make a real difference. When you buy Fairtrade tea, farmers and workers can bring greater security, equality, and opportunity to the lives of their families and communities. They can improve their standard of living and this, in turn, can have a positive impact to the economy as they can utilise the additional income for better healthcare, education and generally increase their expenditure that would, in turn, enhance their contribution towards their countries Gross Domestic Product (GDP), all while leading a better and healthier life for themselves and their families.
Why does Fair Trade matter for City, University of London?
City has been a certified Fairtrade University since 2010. City has shown its commitment to supporting Fairtrade, both in terms of selling Fairtrade products on campus as well as by raising awareness of Fairtrade amongst students and staff. City’s commitment to this cause stems from the University’s larger vision of supporting workers, its focus on ethical trading, support for developing and least developed countries and promoting environmental sustainability.
This year, the Sustainability team at City is running a series of projects including one dedicated project on promoting Fairtrade to generate awareness in this pandemic ridden world with social media posts, blogs and discussion groups to promote and generate awareness on Fairtrade. This article is a part of this project. Additionally, the Student Union at City and the Catering services working with City are active participants in promoting Fairtrade products. Such endeavours earnt City the title of the greenest university in London in July 2019 in London’s People & Planet’s University League Table.