Sunday, February 8, 2009
Fair trade in an unfair world
"Before the days of Israel's crippling siege of the Gaza Strip, six women's couscous processing cooperatives were in operation in Gaza, built on the foundation of the above criteria. Their products, however, did not bear a fair trade certification mark that made the product instantly and internationally recognized as being fair trade. They were, however, exported by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), a member of the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT, recently renamed the World Fair Trade Organization), so there is no question as to whether or not the products were actually fair trade. With the help of the Fair Trade department of PARC, which also provided their founding infrastructure, these co-ops exported more than 100 tons of couscous in 2006 to fair trade organizations all over Europe. That initiative had so much potential and seemed like a viable and promising avenue for economic development -- "had" being the pivotal word."