‘Poor awareness stalls fair trade practices in India’

May 8th, 2009 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Poor awareness, mammoth size, diversity and insularity are challenges India must overcome to ensure fair trade practices in grassroots businesses, World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) president Paul Myers, himself a leading economist, said in the capital Friday.
WFTO, a global representative forum of more than 350 organisations established in 1989, tries to ensure fair deals for small-scale producers at the grassroots the worldover and correct trade imbalances, while factoring in ecological concerns and participation by all segments of industry.

It touches the lives of 110 million farmers and 90,000 artisans, retailers and other stakeholders and has ensured $2.2 billion in fair trade sales.

“I have had the opportunity to know India as I was working in Bangladesh. I think the awareness about fair trade practices - the core of which is equitable and fair distribution of benefits for all stakeholders, including the farmer or the worker at the bottom of the production chain - is still low in India,” Myers said.

“Few firms are working on it. One of the reasons may be the fact that India is a big country and educating producers is difficult,” Myers told IANS in the capital on the eve of the World Fair Trade Day May 9.

“If we believe that fair trade is sustainable and effective, then it is the solution to the world’s financial crisis,” he argued.

However, according to him, India’s cultural and demographic diversity and its “relatively low knowledge” about fair trade outside the country were also its two major bottlenecks.

“India is respected by the southern countries because it is doing well economically. The country has managed to establish women’s leadership. The elephant has finally started to move,” Myers said explaining why India should begin to look seriously at fair trade practices.

He said he foresaw several new businesses with fair trade potential in India, eco-tourism for instance.

This year, WFTO has adopted “beat poverty, beat climate change, beat financial crisis, beat a drum” as the theme for the World Fair Trade Day. As part of this, the Indian chapter of the WFTO will beat drums in the capital Saturday in a symbolic gesture to spread awareness.

The Fair Trade Forum-India, the local chapter of WFTO that ensures better market access and sustainable development of rural businesses, works with 100,000 grassroots workers through 4,500 producer groups.

The country will flag off the weeklong World Fair Trade Day May 9-16 festivities with a series of seminars, cultural programmes and rural crafts exhibitions.

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