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Boston, MA—On Saturday, May 14, concerned citizens across the world will celebrate World Fair Trade Day by engaging in activities focused on promoting the fair trade movement and items produced using this economic model. A list of events, which vary from city to city, can be found at www.wftday.org.
Fair trade products benefit farmers and consumers alike, including a fair price for products, an investment in people and communities, environmental sustainability, empowerment of farmers, and direct, long-term relationships between importers and farming cooperatives.
"It's designed so small-scale farmers and craftspeople receive a living wage and improve the prospects of their communities and their families," said Shayna Harris, coffee program organizer for Oxfam America. "It also offers consumers a way to channel their purchases into socially responsible products that support farmers." Fair Trade Certified™ products such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and fresh fruits can be found in supermarkets and other retail outlets across the country.
Over the last several years, Oxfam's work in this area has focused on Fair Trade Certified™ coffee and its role in alleviating the coffee crisis. An economic and humanitarian calamity triggered in 1999 by plunging coffee prices and a glut of low-quality product on the coffee market, the coffee crisis has ravaged coffee-growing communities in developing countries.
After hitting a 30-year low in 2001, the price of coffee has begun to recover. But the extra cents in no way signal an end to the coffee crisis. Despite higher prices, small-scale farmers still cannot earn a decent income. "The fair trade model is critical to the success of small-scale family coffee farmers," said Seth Petchers, coffee program manager at Oxfam America. "Fair trade goes beyond the issue of price. It addresses other needs farmers have, including access to credit, technical assistance, and access to international markets and information."
By working with policy makers, coffee roasters, retailers, NGOs, and consumers, Oxfam America is working to stabilize farmer incomes, promote fair trade, create meaningful diversification options, and provide coffee farmers and farm workers with access to farm credit, technical assistance and market information. Read the most recent Oxfam report and proposals on the coffee crisis
For World Fair Trade Day events in your city, please visit www.wftday.org.