12 NOVEMBER 2005, Page 21

Fair point

From Barbara Crowther

Sir: Phillip Oppenheim’s article (‘Fairtrade fat cats’, 5 November) misses several key points about Fairtrade. Fairtrade is not about charity. It is about transforming the impact of commercial trade in the lives of producers in developing countries. The success of Fairtrade shows that you can pay a fair price to the producer and still compete successfully in the conventional commercial environment. Certification with the Fairtrade mark means consumers can be totally confident that the producers have received a price that provides a decent income and a little extra to invest in a better future for their families and communities. This is what matters most to the farmers, and is rightly supported by consumers who are buying Fairtrade products.

Fairtrade is also about empowering farmers in the developing world, enabling them to participate more actively in the trading relationship. As Amos Wiltshire, a Caribbean banana farmer, has said, ‘With Fairtrade, small farmers have been transformed from marginalised farmers into businessmen.’ The Fairtrade Foundation will continue to work with all retailers to maximise the sales of Fairtrade products so as to deliver more benefits to more people in the developing world. This work complements that of the development charities and the campaigns for wider international trade justice.

Barbara Crowther

Fairtrade Foundation, London EC1