Fairtrade by India, for India

After 19 years of certifying Indian farmers’ produce for sale on the international market, Fairtrade is now marketing Indian products directly to Indian consumers. Launched in Bangalore, the organisation says that it will focus on “promoting Indian-produced Fairtrade products directly to the growing Indian market to further benefit Fairtrade farmers and workers.” Fairtrade India is part of Fairtrade International’s effort to move beyond the south-north trade model, and Fairtrade marketing organisations have now been established successfully in countries including South Africa and Kenya. “This is an exciting opportunity for India to demonstrate that it can actually lead on ethical consumption and show its support for our small farmers. Buying Fairtrade is an immediate way for us to directly support the poorest farmers and the environment,” says the CEO of Fairtrade India Abhishek Jani Jani was appointed Fairtrade India’s first Chief Executive in March 2013, and its board members now include producers and Fairtrade experts alike. There are currently around 121,400 workers and farmers working with Fairtrade in India, with 72 Fairtrade certified producer organisations, exporting Fairtrade certified products around the world. In 2012, Indian farmers and workers received more than US$3 million above what they would otherwise have received in the market due to the Fairtrade Premium. “Fairtrade has made a tangible difference in the lives of Indian farmers. We’ve been able to invest in our communities, and have greater power in our trading relationships thanks to the Fairtrade movement. With the launch of Fairtrade India, we now have a chance to increase the impact much further,” says Tomy Mathew, Chair of the Association of Indian Fairtrade Producers. Homegrown Indian brands are now available providing Fairtrade rice, tea, coffee, spices and cotton for Indian consumers and businesses. A range of wholesale Fairtrade products are available, including cotton, coffee, rice, sugar, spices, dried fruit, cocoa, and coconut, among others. “We are excited about the launch of Fairtrade because it provides an innovative opportunity for ethical businesses like ours to credibly demonstrate our commitment and to create a tangible positive impact on cotton farmers and workers’ lives,” says Sreeranga Rajan, the CEO of Dibella India, which offers products made from Fairtrade certified cotton. “We strongly believe that Indian consumers are ready to exercise their power and act as change agents through their daily purchases.” Fairtrade International has also recently introduced the Standard for Hired Labour, marking an important step in the organisation’s effort to extend its work beyond Fairtrade Premium projects and basic labour rights protection. The organisation says the new document is based on the principles of the workers’ rights strategy, but grounded firmly in the daily reality of Fairtrade workers across three continents. The Standard includes requirements on freedom of association, benchmarks for companies working towards the living wage, provisions for the use of migrant labour, and giving workers the power to decide on how the Fairtrade Premium is invested.

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