An international development consultant, Larry Attipoe, has urged government and agro-based businesses to explore the huge opportunities available on the international Fairtrade market.
He said when that is done, smallholder farmers will get maximum value for their produce, whil the economy stands a chance of raking in more export earnings.
He told the B&FT in an interview during a training session for selected journalists in Accra that: “There are many people today who are so aware about the dimensions of the environment, and for that matter want to buy ethically – and this number is growing. So, if you are a country and you don’t embrace it then you will lose out on the market”.
The 1.6 million farmers and workers on the Fairtrade system around the globe contributed to total sales of €7.88 billion, with member-cooperatives garnering €150 million in premium—an extra sum of money that they can invest in any project of their choice.
Commodities traded under the Fairtrade system are produced and certified to meet a set of compliance rules that consider the social, environmental and economic implications.
For instance, a product that bears the Fairtrade logo must have been produced without child labour, meet safe working conditions and gender balance, contribute to a reduction in carbon dioxide and must have a set minimum price—that includes the premium margin.
In Ghana, farmers in the Fairtrade system brought in more than US$10.45million worth of premium last year, which is not the value of sold products but an additional gain that has been derived from buyers who feel the need to pay extra to farmers for use in their communities, cooperatives and personal needs.
“If we can sell more under Fairtrade and get more groups certified, then we are going to get more revenue; if we can also make it a policy that, for instance, all our cocoa is sold under fair trade terms, the 900,000 tonnes of cocoa sold last year could have brought in US$1.8 billion to the economy.”
According to Mr. Attipoe, ethical and fair trade has the potential to change the face of development and give pride to farmers, because they will get access to ready markets and gain premiums to transform their communities.
Fairtrade is at the forefront of mobilising global action and support for smallholder farmers, so that they are organised and given a voice to play around the trade table at the international, local and every level.
“Fairtrade Africa works toward ensuring fairness in the market, in a way that farmers get good value for the crops that they produce, be it cocoa, cashew etc. That means they are getting just value for just work. If we don’t do that then we are cheating ourselves, because we are not helping the farmers to explore their potential and to feed the world,” Mr. Attipoe noted.
The one-day training programme was to familiarise the journalists on workings of Fairtrade and the various opportunities that can be leveraged by government and businesses to ensure farmers get value for money.
Fairtrade Africa (FTA), as a producer network within the Fairtrade system, is an independent non-profit umbrella organisation that consists of both small producer organisations (SPOs) and workers in plantations.
It seeks to secure sustainable livelihoods for its members by connecting disadvantaged producers and consumers, promoting fairer trading conditions and empowering producers to combat poverty, while strengthening their position in supply chains to enable them take control of their lives.