I’ve always been suspicious of “Fair Trade” products as a simplistic way to make us feel better about eating chocolate or drinking coffee while causing more problems than they solve.
It’s official: Fairtrade screws over labourers
A new study exposes Fairtrade for what it is – a Western vanity project that impoverishes those it’s meant to benefit.he world’s ethical shoppers are still reeling this week after a report revealed that Fairtrade programmes are of little benefit to those working on farms in the developing world.
The government-funded study published by SOAS, a part of the University of London, was conducted over a four-year period in Uganda and Ethiopia. It showed that labourers on farms that are part of Fairtrade programmes are usually paid less and are subject to worse working conditions than their peers on large commercial farms, and even other small farms that are not part of Fairtrade programmes. Professor Christopher Cramer, the study’s main author, said: ‘Fairtrade has not been an effective mechanism for improving the lives of wage workers, the poorest rural people.’
The study also found that the ‘social premium’ incorporated into the price of Fairtrade products, which is meant to be used to improve infrastructure in poor communities, is often misspent. In one instance, researchers found that modern toilets built with this premium were in fact for the use of senior farm managers only. The report also documented examples of health clinics and schools set up with social-premium funds that charged fees that were too high for the labourers they were intended to benefit.
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