Unfortunately, what is known as “Fair Trade” has become increasingly unfair as time has progressed. For example one of the communities we chose to study for our document “Towards achieving economic and ecological sustainability…” strongly express the opinion that “Fair Trade” is not fair, because it requires such large quantities of the products, that the small producers cannot access this market. Even Coopeagri, the largest local co-operative in South Costa Rica, who have obtained the Fair Trade label (they process 215,000 bushels of coffee a year, 13% of the total production of the country) has trouble convincing the producers to adopt the strict requirements to qualify for Fair Trade. These requirements increase the production costs so much that it is not worth doing, according to most of the producers.
We consider that what is needed is a company which offers services to small producers’ groups to facilitate their insertion into the local and international market, with special emphasis on the small size of the organisations involved, both of producers’ and the consumers’ groups. Many consumers in developed countries are aware of their power to choose ethical products and thus to diminish the price distortions in the supply chain, but their only option so far is to buy the “Fair Trade” label. By making contact between small groups of producers and consumers (“twinning”), campaigning for more consumer awareness in developing countries, supplying quality control, publicity, market research, appropriate labelling and standards, logo development and other services, such a company could help facilitate this process. The groups we are working with have expressed willingness to pay for such services.
In addition, all of them have expressed their need for better Internet connections, so that they can obtain information about the market, make contacts and publicise their activities. In their own words “information is power”. An effort is needed to supply them with this. Fudesemillas is contacting different organisations who might be able to assist us to catalyse the installation of Internet connectivity for these isolated communities.
We are also proposing to further our studies and contacts with the aim of setting up a “Small to Small Trading” company, and would welcome suggestions and help in order to put these ideas into practice for the reduction of poverty in the rural communities of the world. These are the people who could ameliorate climate change, produce a larger proportion of the world’s food and revert the influx of refugees and immigrants to more developed countries and urban areas.
We would welcome offers from Spanish-speaking volunteers with experience in these areas to help us achieve this aim.