2015 10 23

Choose Fair Trade, Change the World!

Have you ever thought about the working conditions and the pay for those who grow oranges, coffee beans and other daily consumption goods imported from developing countries? The Lithuanian Consumer Institute invited representatives of youth organisations early in October to a Creative Workshop where they were briefed about the Fair Trade system and invited to work together developing ideas to build public awareness of alternatives to traditional trade.

Low awareness of Lithuanians

Although Fair Trade presently covers around 1.4 million farmers and workers from 74 developing countries and the Fair Trade certification mark may be found on more than 30 000 various products, the level of awareness of Fair Trade in Lithuania, in general, is rather low and the choice of Fair Trade products is limited.

‘Fair Trade offers an opportunity to consumers to choose quality products for a fair price. Fair Trade mark on a product means that its producers and workers from developing countries got an adequate pay for their work, worked in safe conditions and were not exploited,' told Dr. Renata Dagiliūtė, expert of the Fair Trade project in Lithuania, to the participants of the Creative Workshop. ‘This Project aims not only at making the public aware of the Fair Trade system, its principles and benefits, but also at encouraging them to contribute to the positive developments worldwide by their daily choices.'

How can you change the world?

The necessity and importance of changes was explained to the participants of the event by a guest from Brazil - Alcimir Antonio do Carmo, journalist and President of the Global Federation of Portuguese-Speaking Journalists. According to him, a kilogram of oranges costs EUR 0.06 in Brazil. Until oranges reach the store shelves in Lithuania, their price increases at least 25 times. A kilogram of oranges costs around EUR 1.45 in Lithuanian stores at present.

Although the price of oranges increases 25 times, farmers of oranges and farm workers in Brazil live in poverty. It is so not because they do not know how to work or are lazy to work - they get the pay which does not cover production costs and cannot guarantee subsistence. It has been estimated that only about 20 per cent of the price paid for oranges in supermarkets reach the farmers. 63 per cent of the price is retained by intermediaries and retailers. The orange farms certified by Fair Trade get a twofold share of the price.

It is the Fair Trade system that was noted by Alcimir Antonio do Carmo as a potential alternative to the existing chain of trade. He believes that an increasing number of Fair Trade farms could help orange farmers and farm workers get a decent pay. This would, however, require the awareness raising of consumers; they should ask where the products they buy come from and in what conditions they have been produced.

In this way, consumers would contribute by their daily choices to the positive changes in the developing countries of the world. As statistics shows, 3 glasses of orange juice out of 5 bought worldwide are from Brazilian oranges. If at least one glass of the juice purchased were made from Fair Trade oranges, the situation of farm workers in this country would change significantly.

Choose Fair Trade, Change the World!

In order to inform Lithuanian consumers about the problems existing in the traditional international trade system and the solutions offered by Fair Trade, the participants of the Creative Workshop from different youth organisations have developed several awareness raising models of the social campaign ‘Choose Fair Trade, Change the World!'.

Creative Workshop is one of the youth-oriented activities of the awareness raising project ‘Choose Fair Trade, Change the World!' which covers all population groups. On the initiative of the Lithuanian Consumer Institute, animated films and an interactive game on Fair Trade have been created, training for schoolchildren and opinion leaders have taken place. Presentations on Fair Trade were also made during special events in shopping centres, popular music festivals.

The press release is part of the Project ‘Fair Trade: Awareness Raising', implemented by the Lithuanian Consumer Institute and co-financed by the European Union.

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