Foster your children's interest in the world around them by teaching them about fair trade policies. By teaching about fair trade and commerce, you can help children to develop their compassion and become engaged, active citizens of the world. Tailor your presentation to the children's ages and capacities. For example, for younger students, it may be inappropriate to describe particularly horrific working conditions in third-world countries.
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You can spark students' interest in fair trade issues by focusing on one widely imported product of great appeal: chocolate. According to Global Exchange.com, approximately 284,000 children work to harvest cocoa in West Africa under abusive working conditions. According to the European Fair Trade Association, farmers growing chocolate typically receive less than 5 per cent of the profits. To help students recall their chocolate facts, set up activities related to fair trade chocolate. For a "reverse trick-or-treating" project, have students go around to other classrooms, distributing fair trade chocolates and giving presentations.
While children won't be so interested in drinking coffee themselves, the origins of the ubiquitous black brew is sure to arouse some curiosity. Global Exchange.com reports that typical coffee farmers often receive pay for their harvest below their operating costs, putting them into a cycle of debt and poverty. These farmers are often forced to sell for $.30 to $.50 per pound, half of what the middlemen buyers can resell the coffee for. As a result, family farmers may make £325 to £650 in a year. Coffee pickers earning wages may need to pick up to 45.4 Kilogram in a day. In Guatemala, the 100-pound quota earns wage workers the minimum wage of £1.90 per day. In addition, owners are regularly reported paying under minimum wage.
Bananas make a nutritious and informative focus for a lesson on fair trade. According to Oxfam, the banana farmers of the Windward Islands exported most of their banana crops to Europe until the mid-1990s, when the European Union let multinational banana producers compete with the Windward Islands growers. In the Windward Islands, growers operate small, family-run farms and need to spend more than half of their earnings on pesticides, fertilisers, packaging and transport, making it difficult or impossible to compete with large competitors.
In response to the unfair conditions facing many farmers around the world, Fair Trade produces products based on fair wages and reasonable working conditions. In the United States, you can find products that are Fair Trade Certified. Corporations cannot receive certification. Specifically, Fair Trade Certification is possible for coffee, tea, herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, sugar, rice, vanilla, flowers and honey.
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