In Africa, South America and Asia, farmers struggle to live and raise their families because of the meager profits they make on their crops. The large number of middle-men between the farmer and the consumer take the bulk of the profits, leaving the farmer with little to live on and less with which to run the farm. This has resulted in a return of child labor and child slavery. It has resulted in poor and dangerous farming practices that are destroying the ecosystem and endangering the people andanimals that live in the vicinity of the farms. Thousands of acres of rain forest are being destroyed every year to make room for more fields of crops that will deplete the land even further and endanger even more people and wildlife.
Fair trade associations work with farmers in Africa, South America and Asia, helping them establish cooperatives that work together to deliver their crops directly to manufacturers, eliminating the majority of the middlemen that would ordinarily eat up their profits. These cooperatives allow the farmers to pay workers to cultivate and harvest their crops, rather than relying on poorly paid child labor or child slave labor. The cooperatives allow the farmers to use integrated crop management techniques that protect the biodiversity of the plant and animal life in the area.
Transfair USA certifies fair trade products, such as coffee, cocoa, tea and sugar, grown by these farmers. The organization also helps the farm cooperatives connect with manufacturers in the United States to sell their crops directly without the use of middle-men. In the past seven years, farmers have received over $60 million in price premiums as a result of their association with Transfair USA. For every one dollar a farmer invests in his business, he yields approximately seven dollars in income through working with Transfair USA. This is a dramatic improvement in income for the farmers.
As a result of the increase in income, farmers in disadvantaged areas of the world are able to buy farm equipment and machinery to streamline their operations and improve their crop yields. These farmers are also investing in their communities, building health clinics that provide free healthcare services to the farming community, funding educational programs that allow their children to obtain a higher education, funding women’s programs that provide business and leadership educational programs, and reproductive health programs.
There are five million people in 50 countries that benefit from the programs funded as a direct result of Transfair USA’s involvement with the farmers of the area.
Fair trade is growing quickly in popularity in the United States. While Fair Trade Certified coffee is the most widely known and fastest growing item in the fair trade line of products, it is by no means the only Fair Trade Certified product on the market. Transfair USA works with over 500 companies making certified fair trade products such as; coffee, tea, chocolate, rice, sugar and fruit. These products are distributed to over 33,000 retail stores in the United States. Fair Trade Certified products are made available to the American consumer in stores ranging from large warehouse and supermarket chains, to fast food restaurants, to independently owned coffee shops.
TransFair USA plans to expand its reach by building relationships with more retail establishments and manufacturers in order to increase the number and type of products it can offer to the public around the world.