World Fair Trade Day (May 9, 2015) is an inclusive worldwide festival of events celebrating fair trade as 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.
In celebration of World Fair Trade Day, we are promoting a guest blog from Fairtrade America. We are proud that the cotton we use is Fairtrade Certified, ethically sourced from Indian farmers. Fairtrade America is the official representative of Fairtrade International in the United States and works with people and organizations to increase the awareness and support for fair trade.
What Issues Do Cotton Farmers Face?
Cotton is one of the world’s most important crops in terms of land use after food grains and soy beans. But millions of small-scale cotton farmers are at the far end of a multi-billion dollar textile supply chain that leaves them trapped in poverty.
Over 60% of the world’s cotton is produced by an estimated 40 million small farmers. With high levels of illiteracy and limited land holdings, many cotton farmers live below the poverty line and are dependent on middlemen or ginners, who often buy their cotton at prices below the cost of production.
Rising costs of production, fluctuating market prices, decreasing yields and climate change are daily challenges, along with food price inflation and food insecurity. The notorious complexity of the cotton and textile supply chain means that farmers have little power to negotiate with others in the chain to secure better prices.
In India, where Dhana Inc. sources its cotton, many farmers find themselves in serious debt because of the high-interest loans needed to purchase fertilizers and other farm inputs.
How Does Fairtrade Help?
Through Fairtrade, thousands of small-scale cotton farmers have already improved their lives. Cotton cooperatives have become better organized, farmers are more productive and women farmers are receiving the same rewards as male farmers, from voting rights to equal pay. A study on the impact of Fairtrade cotton in four countries particularly noted the impact of Fairtrade Standards on gender equity.
Fairtrade encourages sustainable cotton production and is the only standard to provide economic benefits, through a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price and additional Fairtrade Premium for seed cotton farmers. Many farmers’ groups invest their Fairtrade Premium in community infrastructure and education facilities in their local communities.
What Can You Do?
As with all Fairtrade Certified products, look for the FAIRTRADE Mark—it’s your assurance that the cotton in a garment has met our rigorous standards. Choose Fairtrade Certified products from companies such as Dhana Inc. to ensure that cotton farmers get a fair price and fair conditions for their work.
Celebrate World Fair Trade Day by getting inspiration from the Fairtrade America website. You can join in on Twitter, enter competitions and receive free materials.
"Buying a fairly traded garment is not giving to charity, but is much more a positive statement of fulfilling one’s commitment towards all the people who are ultimately responsible for the garment."
—G S Rao, state coordinator of CHETNA Organics