Producers are concerned about the lack of an efficient fair trade inspection and certification system. And not just within the Max Havelaar network.
We are well acquainted with the organic industry and its clearly independent inspections that rely on ISO standards and are accredited by governments or consumer and producer organizations. Yet FLO standards were neither developed nor ratified by producers as is normally the case. FLO-Cert is an offshoot of FLO and remains too closely connected to its parent company. A fully independent supervising body is needed, as well as local structures capable of better completing these tasks, at a cost lower than today’s. Inspection and certification are not a matter of policing but of establishing a climate of mutual trust. Here, at the UCRI, we have a monitoring system that is integrated into the organic inspection and certification process. Why have two different systems when we can establish a one-stop organic and fair trade certification system?
(…) As producers, we are not at all pleased that Max Havelaar is forgetting its initial calling. The problem must be resolved in the long-term in countries where consumers live. Why not vote to accept a law that sets the margins that industries and retailers can earn? Fair trade must move in that direction, but first it must generate a greater awareness of how urgent a change is required. While it does not solve the problems of the small producers that are exploited, fair trade is the vehicle that enables these producers to get organized, to understand how the structures of today’s world function, to gain strength, and to speak with one voice. Therefore, the FLO and other similar structures must do a much better job, but within the “family” of fair trade, all together. As an organization, UCIRI is a member of the FLO and IFAT (International Fair Trade Association), and we sell our coffee to pioneering fair trade structures. But many cooperatives have to also sell to Kraft or Nestlé since all of their products cannot be sold under fair trade conditions. There is no point in protesting this decision without offering a concrete solution.
“Le commerce équitable au pied du mur ?”
Interview by Christian Jacquiau/ Frans Van Der Hoff
Published in Imagine demain le monde magazine, March-April 2007