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2015-02_dc

26 D+C Vol.42.2015:2 The Fairtrade approach is to offer farmers attrac- tive prices, normally above the world-market level, provided they produce goods in an environmen- tally sustainable and socially equitable manner. The idea is to ensure incomes that enable rural people to live in a satisfying, self-determined way. Consumers who buy products with the Fairtrade logo know that they are supporting a worthy cause rather than taking advantage of an exploitative supply chain. Today, almost 75,000 cotton farmers in developing countries have obtained Fairtrade certification. Their organisations – typically cooperatives – live up to high standards. The use of genetically modified organisms is ruled out. Dangerous pesticides are banned as well. Fairtrade standards are designed to protect farmers’ health and safety as well as to conserve nature. More­ over, they are geared to promoting investments in busi- nesses that are eco-friendly and provide good liveli- hoods to all persons concerned. Some years ago, two independent impact studies delivered a picture of how Fairtrade is making a differ- ence in cotton farmers’ lives in West and Central Africa as well as in India, the main cotton-producing regions. One study was a joint effort by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) of the University Farmers’ self-determination Cotton farms are an important part of the international supply chain – but the people who work there tend to be forgotten. About 90 % of them are smallholders in developing countries. They depend on exploitative middlemen, so many of them hardly benefit from positive market trends. Moreover, they are exposed to many risks – from pesticide contamination to climate change. Fairtrade International is aware of their plight and strives to improve matters. By Anup Kumar Singh Picking organic Fairtrade cotton in Burkina Faso. Böthling/Photography

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