Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Korea Times - 05-07-2009
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia - Staff Reporter
When you sip a cup of coffee or snack on a bar of chocolate, chances are you don't think about where the coffee beans are from or the farmers who grew the cacao beans.
It's hard to imagine that the simple act of buying coffee or chocolate has the power to change people's lives, but thanks to "fair trade,'' it does.
Buying fair trade coffee and chocolates, which are also organically grown, helps improve the lives of coffee farmers in Guatemala and Ecuador, cacao farmers in Ghana and Dominican Republic and sugar cane producers in the Philippines.
What is Fair Trade?
For the last 50 years, the fair trade movement has been gaining traction around the world, changing the way people think about buying and consuming products. But it has only recently been gaining ground in Korea.
Fair trade addresses the issues of inequality and injustice in traditional trade, by giving sustainable prices and providing good working conditions for farmers in developing countries. By doing this, farmers and workers are able to improve their lives.
According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO): ``Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seek greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of marginalized producers and workers.''
Paul Myers, WFTO president, says fair trade is not just about money, but also about mutual respect between people.
``Fair trade means, transparency, and accountability and fairness in all of our dealings and those dealings are built on principle. The principles of fair trade mean that we live socially and environmentally sustainable lives; they mean we live for the next generation and not for ourselves; we invest in each other for the good of us all; they mean we enable democratic process and liberty for all people to do the best for themselves and their communities; they mean we favor prosperity for both our friends and our foes in the knowledge that equality and freedom will bring peace and quality of life and make conflict and misery increasingly irrelevant,'' Myers said, on the WFTO Web site.
World Fair Trade Day 2009
Saturday (May 9) is World Fair Trade Day 2009, held every year to generate more awareness about fair trade around the world. This year's theme is ``Big Bang! Beat poverty, beat climate change, beat economic crisis!'' an acknowledgement of fair trade's impact on the economy and environment. It also serves as a wake-up call for people to start a new way of thinking and living.
For World Fair Trade Day, various events, such as festivals, markets, concerts, performances and parades, are being held around the world. Leading international figures such as Sir Paul McCartney, singer Annie Lennox and South African activist Desmond Tutu are also lending their support for World Fair Trade Day 2009.
In Seoul, people can celebrate World Fair Trade Day at the Fair Trade Coffee Village project in Samcheong-dong and Buk-chon, northern Seoul, and the Korea Fair Trade Festival, Deoksu Palace, downtown Seoul.
Coffee Village Project
``Where is Fair Trade Coffee?'' ``Where is Fair Trade Chocolate?'' These are the questions posed by the Korea Fair Trade Association's (KFTA) posters. The answers can be found in selected cafes in Samcheong-dong and Buk-chon, northern Seoul.
Six cafes will be serving fair trade coffee from Latin America and Ghana and sell fair trade chocolates from Friday through Sunday (May 8-10), as part of the Fair Trade Coffee Village Project. These are: Coffee Village Project, namely Cafe Moi, Coffee Factory, Yeondo, Cafe Chai, Kkumkkuneun Yeowoo and Jeon Gwang-su's Coffee House (See map).
Park Chang-soon, president of KFTA, a non-profit organization established to raise awareness of fair trade, said this weekend's event was organized to attract more Korean consumers to join the fair trade movement.
``Through familiar medium such as chocolate and coffee, we'd like to raise public awareness on fair trade, which is yet not well known in Korea. We'd like to call on ethically minded consumers to join the fair trade movement to pay fair price to marginalized producers around the world and reduce irrational distribution and marketing costs," Park said.
The picturesque neighborhoods in Samcheong-dong and Bukchon are already known for having a lot of quaint coffee shops. This weekend, the participating cafes will not just serve coffee but provide informational materials about fair trade.
The coffee and cacao are from the various fair trade groups such as Honduras' Regional de Agricultores Organicos de la Sierra (RAOS); Tanzania's Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union; Ecuador's Federacion Regional de Asociaciones de Pequenos Cafetaleros Ecologicos del Sur del Ecuador (FAPECAFES); Guatemala's Guaya'b Asociacion Civil; and Switzerland's Claro.
Aside from coffee, the cafes will also sell fair trade chocolates, which are all natural and organic. Mascao chocolates, the world's first fair trade chocolate, are made of cacao grown by small-scale farmers in Bolivia and Dominican Republic, and cane sugar from the Philippines. The chocolate is manufactured in Switzerland. It may cost a little bit more than the average chocolate bar, but the quality of the chocolate is well worth the price.
``We hope people come here with family, friends and lovers and enjoy fair trade coffee and chocolate while acting for fair trade," Park said.
Fair Trade Festival
The Korea Fair Trade Festival will be held Saturday at Deoksu Palace, near Seoul City Hall. Six non-government organizations, namely The Beautiful Store, Korean Women's Environmental Network, Fair Trade Korea YMCA Korea, AP-Net and iCoop (Korean Solidarity of Consumer Cooperatives), organized the one-day event.
To promote fair trade among Koreans, the festival features booths selling fair trade products and energetic performances by an African drum and percussion orchestra, independent rock bands and a traditional Korean percussion children's group.
There will also be a fashion show featuring organic fair trade clothing organized by the Seoul National University's Students in Free Enterprise.
Where to Buy Fair Trade Goods
Even after World Fair Trade Day is over, consumers can still get fair trade coffee, chocolates, cereal bars, muesli, candy, pasta and even soccer balls at the online shop www.fairtradekorea.com. Cereal bars are 1,900 won, while Mascao chocolates range from 2,700 won to 5,000 won.
Coffee, chocolates and other fair trade food products are also available at the Hyundai Department Stores in Apgujeong and COEX, southern Seoul.
Another Web site ecofairtrade.godo.co.kr/shop sells fair trade organic cotton clothing. The Beautiful Store, which has shops all over Seoul, sells fair trade coffee from Nepal called ``A Gift from the Himalayas.''
For more information about fair trade, visit:
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
One of the things that makes a fair trade organisation different from a typical purely profit-driven company is the concept - and application - of transparency.
We at the Gwangju Fair Trade Movement GIC Fair Trade Cafe are happy to share our accounts from the previous months of this year.
We welcome questions and inspections of our processes
(just as we always welcome advice, guidance, and help with maintaining records and staffing the cafe)!
Please leave comments on this site.
All serious questions, requests for more information or correspondance will be answered.
[Click on image below for larger view.]
Friday, March 20, 2009
It has been nearly a year since the last posting to this blog.
A lot has happened here in Gwangju, and in the world.
GIC (the Gwangju International Center) offices have had a full make-over; today a professional sign-writer was putting the finishing touches on the new logo inside the office, to match the new paint-job and refurbishing throughout the rooms.
Meanwhile, here in Gwangju, the Gwangju Fair Trade Movement continues with the goal of supporting local fair trade organisations. We are doing this by promoting and supporting fair trade products available within Korea, here on this website, and by continuing with the Fair Trade Cafe where you can also find samples to buy at the same prices as elsewhere in Korea.
The Fair Trade Cafe has been operating at the Saturday afternoon GIC talk sessions since the middle of last year. As GIC has expanded and upgraded, so has the cafe. Two new workers are regularly on hand to staff the cafe, and make you a hot fresh cup of certified Fairtrade tea, coffee or, now newly available hot chocolate. The staff are bi-lingual and so can chat in Korean or English about fair trade with you or friends you bring to GIC before the talk from 2 -2.30pm, or after the talk from 3.30 - 4.40pm.
The cafe now also stocks milk and creamer, and supplies certified Fairtrade sugar for your drinks. But if you really have a sweet tooth check out the certified Fairtrade chocolate or stawberry jam. The chocolate, just like the sugar, tea, coffee and hot chocolate is supplied from our friends at the Seoul-based Ulim Fairtrade Store, and the stawberry jam is from the local Tesco/HomePlus, as is the certified Fairtrade cinnamon and ground ginger.
Also within Gwangju the coffee craze continues, with more specialty and chain espresso stores opening, and diversifying their product lines. A Twosome Place and Holly's coffee shops both now stock three varities of the smaller 45 gram Divine certified Fairtrade chocolate bars.
Beyond Gwangju, the global economy has changed.
Times have become harder for many people suddenly unemployed.
This will be having an impact on demand for luxury items such as many of those provided by fair trade producers.
This means the role of promoting, supporting, and purchasing fair trade products is more important than ever.
Korea remains a priviledged 'newly developed' country, and thus has an important role as a still under-developed market for fair trade products.
The change in global economy brings new opportunities as some traders are discovering, with the influx of Japanese tourists to Seoul and Busan enticed by the cheaper Korean won as against the Japanese yen.
Japanese consumers are generally more used to the high quality associated with fair trade products, and are used to demanding and finding fair trade products available more widely.
Thus, these times are actually potentially ripe with opportunity for fair trade organisations, particularly those in Seoul and Busan.
So, if you want to go ahead and buy your own supplies, please go straight to the source.
If you would like to 'try before you buy,' you are welcome to meet us down town at GIC on a Saturday afternoon.
We hope to see you there!