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  Could trade replace aid?
Updated 05 March 2004, 16.33

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Economic Globalisation

Sarah Garden is campaigns officer for the Fairtrade Foundation. It operates the Fairtrade mark. There are teaching ideas available on the website.

Producers of the raw materials that Western society depends on are often poorly rewarded for their efforts.

Learn about one producer and devise your own rules for fair trade.

Learning aims

  • How international trade favours richer countries.
  • What is meant by economic interdependence.
  • How shoppers can make trade fairer.
1) Icebreaker
Read the story
and the case study below. Ask the class questions A to D.

Sivapackiam's case study
Sivapackiam has been picking tea on the same estate for 23 years. Her mother and grandmother did the same job before her, and it's a hard life. "Our biggest problem is that we have too much to do. In the morning we prepare meals and get the children to school.

We have no time even to eat. I have to work very fast, so I get very hungry. We have to carry 10-15 kilos of tea to the weighing place, which can be three quarters of a kilometre away. After work it is the same - we have to do all the cooking and collecting firewood and getting water." She takes home the equivalent of 80 pence a day. "We eat rice and one vegetable. We would like to have two or three vegetables but we cannot afford it. Towards the end of every month we find it difficult."

Question to ask the class:

[A] Would students like to swap places with the tea pickers?

[B]Why do the pickers get less for the tea than it costs in the UK?

[C]How could the pickers be paid more?

[D]Would students pay more for their teabags to give the workers a better deal?

2) Main activity
Rules to make trade fairer

Break the class into groups of three. Within each group designate a shopper, a tea picker and a the manager of a company that imports and sells teabags.

The richer countries of the north are in a position of strength when they deal with small producers in poorer countries. To stop that power being abused each group will draft a set of the five most important rules companies must follow. Individual students must get the best deal they can for the role they are playing.

What should the rules aim to do for the supplier?
The supplier gets a good quality and reliable supply of the raw materials they need at a price they can afford.

What should the rules aim to do for the producer?
The producers will get a price that reflects their effort. They must have enough money to look after their families, and at the end of the year be better off than they were at the start.

What should the rules aim to do for the shopper?
This is for the groups to decide for themselves.

A possible example to get groups started: Fairtrade Foundation's terms of trading:

  • A price that covers the cost of production.
  • A 'social premium' some additional profit to be used by the producers to improve their living and working conditions.
  • Some money paid in advance to avoid small producer organisations falling into debt (if they need to buy seeds or tools)
  • Contracts that allow long term planning, because the producers know they will have a customer.
Bring the groups together to share their results. Can they agree on how powerful shoppers were in setting the rules?

3) Extension activity
Write a statement or produce a poster that will be diplayed next to the teabags in your local supermarket. It should explain how shoppers chosing tea with a fair trade mark can help tea pickers.

4) Plenary
The North depends on commodities from the South, and the South relies on being able to sell basic goods to the North. This is interdependence. How would life change, for producers and shoppers, if the north had to pay a fair price?

Teachers' Background

  • The Fairtrade Foundation exists to ensure a better deal for marginalised and disadvantaged third world producers.

  • Currently, more than 90 coffee, tea, banana, chocolate, cocoa, juice, sugar and honey products carry the Fairtrade Mark.

  • Some 20% of the male banana workers in Costa Rica were left sterile after handling toxic chemicals. As well as being forced to endure appalling working conditions, plantation workers are also paid pittance wages. In Ecuador the plantation workers are paid just $1 per day. When the workers try to organise into trade unions their efforts are often met with violent suppression.

  • The government says it has increased international development aid by 45% in real terms and accepts more needs to be done. The share of the UK's GDP spent on aid is 0.34% - less than half of the 0.7% target agreed by the UK and many other countries.

  • Fleur Anderson, director of campaigns at Catholic aid agency Cafod, told BBC News Online: "This (foreign aid) is all empty words unless we can do more to tackle the problems of unfair trade. Poor countries currently lose 500bn a year in unfair trade."

For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
WorldEat 'fairtrade' chocolate, says Cat Deeley
Find OutOur guide to trade
ClubThink twice when you buy a chocolate bar


Web Links
Fairtrade foundation
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