Ask Fairtrade

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FAIRTRADE & FAIRTRADE AFRICA
What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade is a partnership which connects consumers and producers via a product label, the FAIRTRADE Mark. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping.

What are the benefits of Fairtrade?

The benefits of Fairtrade for producers include the following:
1) Fairtrade minimum price – the Fairtrade minimum price is intended to cover the average costs of production and defines the lowest possible price that a buyer of Fairtrade products must pay the producer.
2) Fairtrade premium – money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that is invested in social, environmental and economic developmental projects.
3) Pre-financing – partial pre-payment of the contract paid by a trader to a producer upon request.

Is there a difference between “fair trade” and “Fairtrade”?

‘Fairtrade’ as one word refers to the standards and the organisations behind the FAIRTRADE Mark. ‘Fair Trade’ as two words refers to the wider Fair Trade movement. The FAIRTRADE Mark is an independent product label. It appears on food and other goods as a consumer guarantee that disadvantaged producers in developing countries are getting a better deal. When a product displays the FAIRTRADE Mark it meets international Fairtrade standards.

Fair Trade in Europe started as a grassroots movement around 40 years ago. The aim was to alleviate poverty in developing countries by building direct, sustainable relationships with disadvantaged producers and providing fair access to markets in Europe. The aim is much the same today, though the market for Fair Trade has grown massively since those early days. Organisations committed to Fair Trade principles have set up relevant associations to work more effectively together. NB within Fairtrade Labelling, Fairtrade is spelt as one word to differentiate it from this broader form of Fair Trade.

How do I become a member of Fairtrade Africa?

Fairtrade Africa is a membership-based organisation. If you are a Fairtrade certified producer in Africa then you are automatically a member of Fairtrade Africa.

As a membership-based organisation, we work through primary structures such as product groups, country partnerships and regional networks which enable our members to have a strong voice in the governance and management of the organisation. Our pride is our members and their strong voice in the governance and management of the organisation.

Who is Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International (FLO)?

Established in 2005, Fairtrade Africa is a member of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) which unites three producer networks (Fairtrade Africa; CLAC- Latin America and the Caribbean; and NAP –Asia) and 21 labelling initiatives across Europe, Japan, North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

IF YOU ARE A TRADER
I would like to trade Fairtrade products, what do I need to do?

Fairtrade labelled products need to be certified all the way along the trade chain from producer to the final packaged product. This assures consumers that the product is Fairtrade. Therefore, if you want to become a trader of Fairtrade products you need be certified by FLO- CERT and you need to buy from Fairtrade certified producers.

Where can I find a list of certified producers in Africa?

You can search for Fairtrade producers in Africa on our website here.

If I become a Fairtrade certified trader, can I still trade non-fair trade products (or standard products)?

Yes, in the same way that even though a producer may be certified as Fairtrade, it is the product itself that is traded as Fairtrade. Some producers have markets to sell a lot of their crop on Fairtrade terms; others sell more on the conventional market with only a small percentage of sales made on Fairtrade terms. We want to see more sales being made on Fairtrade terms, but this doesn’t stop either a producer or trader trading on the conventional market.

Fairtrade standards require that Fairtrade sales have to be clearly identifiable from non-Fairtrade sales when it comes to reporting. The standards also state that contracts between traders and producers must be made, which detail, amongst other things, the volumes that are to be traded as ‘Fairtrade’. The Generic Fairtrade trade standards go into detail about the requirements of trading in Fairtrade. You can read and download the Fairtrade trade standards on the FLO website.

IF YOU ARE A STUDENT/RESEARCHER
Are there volunteer opportunities with Fairtrade Africa?

All volunteer work and intern opportunities with Fairtrade Africa are advertised on our website. We also post opportunities from partner organisations. To see if there are any current opportunities read our jobs page.

I am doing a research project on Fairtrade. Where can I find more information?

While we are very pleased that so many students produce dissertations and projects on various aspects of Fairtrade, limited time and resources unfortunately make it impossible for us to supply the individual responses requested, or to agree to individual interviews or respond to personal questionnaires. We have put as much information on our website as possible, to enable you to find answers to most questions. Try visiting the ‘About Fairtrade’ section of our website or the website of FLO or a Labelling Initiative.

IF YOU ARE A PRODUCER
How do I get my products certified as Fairtrade?

Anyone who supplies a product covered by the standards can become certified to trade Fairtrade products. The first step is to find out if there are Fairtrade standards that apply to your product. Read about the Fairtrade standards on our website here.

FLO-CERT is responsible for the inspection and certification of producer organisations against Fairtrade standards. Details of the application process and how the system works can be found on the FLO-CERT website.

What should I do if there are no standards for my product?

New standards are being worked on all the time to enable more producers to come into the Fairtrade system.

First of all, check to see if there are standards being worked on for your product on the FLO website here. If there are no standards for your product, please contact the Fairtrade Africa regional coordinator in your area who will be able to advise you.

Do I have to be organic certified?

No. However, Fairtrade criteria require sustainable farming techniques, and do offer a higher price for organic products. Moreover, Fairtrade premiums are often used to train producers in organic and sustainable techniques like composting and using recycled materials.

How can I access Fairtrade markets?

Fairtrade Africa is working to increase market access for African producers. Labelling Initiatives are also working hard to raise awareness of Fairtrade with consumers in their countries so that more people buy Fairtrade products, leading to more Fairtrade sales for producer organisations.

To access the Fairtrade market, it is important to find out if there are any buyers who might be interested in buying your products under Fairtrade terms in the countries you want to sell to. Regional co-ordinators within Fairtrade Africa aim to keep up to date information about traders and can be contacted for support. Fairtrade Africa is establishing networks within Africa to improve links between producers, traders and other partners about supply and market opportunities. Read more about the work of Fairtrade Africa regional and country networks here.

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade is a partnership which connects consumers and producers via a product label, the FAIRTRADE Mark. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping.

How can I access technical support?

Fairtrade Africa regional networks support producers through an internal Technical Assistance Fund, which is open to all certified small producer organisations. Read more about this and the support work that Fairtrade Africa is involved in on our website here.

Can I get prefinance for my crop?

The Fairtrade standards allow producers to request partial pre-payment of the contract from traders. This ensures they have the cash flow to pay farmers at the time they deliver their crop.

IF YOU ARE A RETAILER OR CONSUMER
As a shop do I need a license to sell Fairtrade products?

If you wish to distribute and/or sell consumer-ready packaged Fairtrade products (retailer, distributor, web shop), then you do not need a license yourself. However, if you are a company that is interested in offering Fairtrade products to your customers, you should start by looking at the website of the Fairtrade Labelling Initiative that covers your country.

Why does Fairtrade not certify handicrafts?

Fairtrade certification and its system of minimum pricing were designed for commodity products. It is technically difficult to adapt this model of standardised minimum pricing to crafts and other products made by small-scale artisans, which are each unique and have highly varied production processes and costs.

Which Fairtrade products are available in my country? Where can I buy them?

Fairtrade licensing activities in Africa are currently only operating in South Africa. Read about Fairtrade Label South Africa and the available consumer products licensed with FAIRTRADE Mark on their website.

Fairtrade Africa is working to have more Fairtrade labelled products available for consumers across Africa. Intra-African trade is an aim of Fairtrade Africa; along with value addition projects, so that African consumers can also shop for Fairtrade products in their supermarkets and support the development of African Fairtrade producers.

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