Fairtrade Cotton And Wine


Another important stage in developing Fairtrade came in 2005 with the introduction of certified cotton. These products, which include clothing and cotton wool, are made from cotton grown by small farmers in India, Peru, Mali and Senegal. Such farmers, like many other agricultural commodity producers, are at the sharp end of exploitation and injustice in international trade.

Cotton symbolises the unfairness of global trade. Although cotton prices are currently rising, in real terms they are falling dramatically. As the cost of living increases due to sharply rising food and fuel prices, this causes great suffering to cotton farmers in the developing world. While the US and EU advocate free trade and open markets in developing countries, their subsidies are destroying the livelihoods of millions of poor farmers around the world. As artificially cheap cotton floods the world’s markets, poor famers, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, are priced out of the game.

More than 10 million West African people rely on cotton for a living but because of unfair trade practices are still living in poverty. Even though one in four people say they have bought Fairtrade certified cotton products in the UK, still less than 1% of cotton fashion on the high street carries the FAIRTADE Mark. Fairtrade cotton guarantees a Fairtrade minimum price as well as a Fairtrade premium for investment in social development projects such as water, education and healthcare.

Fairtrade certification brings them the guarantee of a minimum price plus a further premium to be used for community development projects.


Fairtrade cotton products can be purchased in Chelmsford at Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Monsoon. Tell us if you hear of another outlet. Here are a number of national suppliers.

  • Bishopston Trading is a pioneer fair trade company. All their profits benefit the people of K.V. Kuppam district through their registered charity, the South India Rural Development Trust.
  • Craghoppers specialise in all year round travel and outdoor clothing. Fairtrade cotton is featured in their World First collection and includes products such as chinos and shirts.
  • Epona sell promotional clothing made from Fairtrade certified cotton.
  • Gossypium design and make great quality clothing, bedding and accessories using organic and Fairtrade certified cotton, sourced directly from independent farmers in India.
  • Natural Collection offer eco, organic and Fairtrade fashion.
  • Onagono unites art, fashion and ethical issues.
  • People Tree create gorgeous garments and accessories by forming sustainable partnerships with fair trade and organic producers in developing countries.
  • Plain Lazy include the Lazy Baby range of T-shirts, long-sleeve tops and hoodies, for ages 0–24 months.
  • The Fairtrade Foundation’s promotional range includes T-shirts, aprons, sashes and bags. A discount of 10% is available when ordering more than 10 of each item.


The range of Fairtrade wine is increasing at a phenomenal rate. There is now a wide variety available – including merlot, rosé, sauvignon blanc – from Chile, Argentina and South Africa. The biggest selection of Fairtrade wines in Chelmsford can be purchased through Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society.

The more Fairtrade products we buy, the greater the benefits for some of the world’s poorest producers.

The harsh realities for many hired labour workers in the wine industry is that:

  • During the picking season workers can be on their feet for shifts that last between 12 and 14 hours.
  • Workers don’t always have the right to use basic facilities – there are reports of vineyards where there’s no access to drinking water or toilets.
  • Many workers experience health problems linked to exposure to pesticides and toxic gases used in the industry.
  • Workers are often employed on a casual basis. This means they have fewer rights and receive no paid sick leave, maternity leave or medical cover.

The importance of Fairtrade

Fairtrade aims to change these injustices. It’s about making trade fairer. Fairtrade seeks to strengthen the position of marginalised farmers and workers and enable them to earn enough for today so that they can invest in a better tomorrow. This is done through a minimum price which covers the cost of production (enough for today) and a social premium which producer organisations invest in community projects (a better tomorrow).

Most Fairtrade certified wine producer groups in South Africa are located on large farms that use hired labour. Fairtrade standards for farms using hired labour are based on International Labour Organisation Conventions. Estate or plantation owners must pay decent wages, promote the right to join trade unions and provide good housing where appropriate. Minimum health and safety, as well as environmental standards, must be applied. Forced and child labour are both prohibited. Fairtrade standards must meet or go beyond the national legislation of the country in which they apply. In the case of South Africa, Fairtrade standards embrace Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE), a legislative process to increase employment opportunities and extend the participation of black people in the economy through the transfer of business ownership, management skills and knowledge. The extra resources that Fairtrade delivers, and its underpinning of B-BBEE, mean that workers on commercial farms are empowered both through Fairtrade and B-BBEE.




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