Over the years, Fair Trade has become a success story in building a partnership between consumers and producers. Many of the staples that we find in our kitchens come from producers who were previously not being paid fair prices for their work or products. This perpetuated a cycle of poverty and denied many families a dignified life.
Producers we have met with over the years have told us how much of an impact Fair Trade has had on their lives. According to regulations set out by the Fairtrade Labelling Organization International (FLO) mandatory minimum prices guarantee that farmers receive fair revenue for their products, especially when commodity prices drop.
Small-scale farmers are usually members of cooperatives, which have democratically elected representatives. This facilitates the decision-making process when deciding how profits are spent, which must be used to improve the community’s living conditions and that of individual families and workers. This system has had tangible benefits for small-scale farmers and profits raised have contributed to building schools and roads or other structural improvements which have been identified as priorities by the community.
Producers and other Fair Trade associated visitors often visit the UK and Scotland, particularly during Fairtrade Fortnight in March every year. This offers an opportunity for consumers to connect with producers, to hear their stories and understand the difference Fair Trade has made in their lives. Producers also get an opportunity to meet with supporters of Fair Trade, which often gives them a boost of morale and confidence that their products, and what they stand for, are appreciated. As a result of these encounters, many consumers are now more thoughtful about what they put into their shopping baskets.
The number of Fair Trade Towns groups in Scotland has grown in the past years, giving our Fair Trade Nation campaign more explicit public support. The campaign is built upon the joint effort of campaigners and shoppers across Scotland, from the school child who wears a Fair Trade cotton uniform, to members of the many Fairtrade Town groups in the country.
Government Ministers, councillors, MPs and MSPs have all been major supporters of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum from its inception. Their commitment to the cause of Fair Trade has been integrated into trade justice in procurement processes and other policies in international development.
Fair Trade has been a force for good in Scotland, bringing together a variety of public sector organisations, as well as non-governmental organisations, universities, colleges and schools, among others. It is quite clear that as an issue, it has had a coalescing role among different players and it continues to grow. The Forum hopes that with Scotland being the world's second Fair Trade Nation, our leadership role in Fair Trade policies will inspire other nations to follow suit.