Fair Trade must remember Europe
A Danish producer of Christmas trees, currently represented at the EU expo in Horsens, will use World Fair Trade Day 12 May to bring focus on Europe’s poorest country, Georgia.
Most consumers in western countries first and foremost associate Fair Trade with ethically responsible production of food, e.g. coffee and bananas, in some of the World’s poorest countries in Africa, South America and Asia.
But Fair Trade is much more than that. Fair Trade is also – with summer at hand – involved in the European production of Christmas Trees, which is collectively a billion dollar business. Here we need to put in a special effort in Georgia, Europe’s poorest country, where every year many tons of Christmas tree seeds are collected.
- It is important to let people know that Fair Trade is not only about sustainability and wage and working conditions in Africa and Asia. There is also a battle to be fought in Europe, says Marianne Bols, owner of Bols Forstplanteskole, who, five years ago, introduced a new way of producing Christmas trees under the name Fair Trees.
The new concept is certified by Fair Trade Denmark and is based on the 10 central principles of Fair Trade. Fair Trees is also member of World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). Among other things, Fair Trees guarantees a fair wage for poor Georgian cone pickers, as well as proper safety gear when they climb to a height of 30 metres to collect cones.Investing in Georgia
For every Christmas tree sold Bols Forstplanteskole donates a part of the money to investments in the local area of Georgia where seeds are gathered. On World Fair Trade Day more than 600 children in the region of Ambrolauri can look forward to a visit to the dentist and medical examinations in mobile medical clinics. Furthermore, a donation of 13.000 pounds will go toward a renovation of the local school, and the children will receive school bags with writing implements and paper.
- As a western producer we have a responsibility of ensuring that the countries we work and trade with are developing. By contributing to schooling and education in Georgia, we are helping to secure ways for the countries to conduct sound business in the future – which in turn will benefit us in the West, says Marianne Bols.
At The NRGI Green Expo in Horsens, which marks the city’s status as EU host, companies display different examples of green and innovative solutions. Bols Forstplanteskole, as the only Christmas tree grower at the expo, emphasize the importance of innovative thinking – also within Fair Trade.
- Fair Trade is not simply a matter of the manufacturers donating a bag of money and that is it. We have to constantly look at how we are able to further business and create production forms and deals to the advantage of both the environment and people working in the Christmas tree business, Marianne Bols concludes.FACTS: Christmas tree production and Fair TreesÂ®
More than 80% of Christmas trees sold in Europe are based on seeds from the Ambrolauri-Tlugi origin in Georgia. Fair Trees owns 25% of the harvest rights in Tlugi proportional to 16 tons of seeds.
Fair TreesÂ® is a concept developed under Fair Trade Denmark with the aim of ensuring a sustainable production, decent wage and working conditions, while at the same time focusing on quality. Fair TreesÂ® makes use of impartial, outside auditing to control working conditions, cone picking and production. Fair TreesÂ® is a member of WFTO.
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