Fairtrade Philippines launched in Cebu

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013


MOST Filipino consumers view fair trade products as expensive. A group of organizations hopes to change this perception and establish a local market that patronizes fair trade goods.

Fairtrade Philippines was launched in Cebu yesterday to raise the awareness of the Philippine market on fair trade principles and develop a local market for fair trade.

Teresa Pono of SIGNAsia, one of four project partners of Fairtrade Philippines, said they hope to change certain perceptions of free trade and make local consumers see that goods are not necessarily expensive of they are free trade, even if they are paying extra for fair trade premiums.

Premiums are used to fund investments in quality and productivity improvements of businesses.

While organizations producing fair trade goods are not many, Pono said there are several in the country but most of them are exporters. She explained that these exporters had to be free trade-certified to meet the demands of their buyers overseas.

As far as the domestic market is concerned, not many know the impact of fair trade goods have on producers of goods.

The two-year program will be implemented by Fairtrade International and funded by the German Investment and Development Bank. Partners of the project include FLO-Cert, SIGNAsia, ASSIST Asia and the OURFood program of AFOS Foundation and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Project areas include the provinces of Negros Oriental and Occidental and Dalaguete in Cebu.

Rozzitsa Krüger of Fairtrade International said there is a big movement in Europe about fairer market conditions and that their consumers have a high awareness about these. She noted that euro4.9 billion was spent by consumers on fair trade products in 2011, up 12 percent from 2010. A survey they conducted showed six out of 10 consumers trust the Fairtrade International mark.

She said fair trade products are sold in over 120 countries, though the bulk of these are sold in Europe.

They consider Asia as a new market, including the Philippines. Retail sales for fair trade products in the Philippines was at just euro13,879.

Their organization supports over 1.3 million farmers in 70 countries. They have 1,149 producer organizations under their belt, up 16 percent from 2011. They estimate over euro80 million in fair trade premiums were paid.

They hope to encourage more producers to be part of Fairtrade International and get support in the form of safety nets, securing fair trade premiums, producer support, access to financing and increasing markets, facilitating information and training and promoting better living wages and conditions for workers.

They are targeting business organizations to give them the opportunity to improve their business and invest in farmers and workers. Products are labeled with the Fairtrade mark so that consumers around the world can choose to buy these over other products knowing the producer has been treated and paid fairly.

To join, an organization should meet a basic set of criteria organized into social, environmental and Business development standards. Independent company FLO-Cert will then inspect the organization and farms producing the goods to see if they meet the standards.

Marketing organizations then promote the Fairtrade products to businesses and consumers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 03, 2013.

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