.003 Vol 2 Iss 1

Vol. 2, No. 1, June 2020 Atypical Fair Trade Collection — Part 1

Fair Trade Futures

This issue of The Journal of Fair Trade is taking a different approach. We are calling this an ‘Atypical Fair Trade
Collection’ (Part 1). We asked people involved in some rather unusual Fair Trade or ‘fair-trade-like’ initiatives to
write for us. From software and seeds, to palm oil and cannabis, we wanted to know what kinds of products,
connections and social relationships were being developed, and why. What was wrong or unjust about
conventional ways of producing and selling those products or services?


Fair Trade Software (FTS) builds on the principles of conventional Fair Trade and applies them to software services in developing countries. Using a model of Shared Value Creation, FTS leverages reputation enhancement opportunities for companies in OECD countries to encourage them to share knowledge with partners in developing countries. Working in this way has been demonstrated to improve the quality and capacity of software companies in developing countries and generate digital employment for urban youth. The improvement gains can lead to significant improvements in other sectors that rely on digital services, e.g. healthcare and education.

Keywords: ICT4D, digital training in developing countries, Fair Trade innovation, Fair Trade Software
This article seeks to articulate some of the major theoretical difficulties raised by associating book publishing with Fair Trade, building on the concept of the ‘distant producer’ as critiqued by both Frank Trentmann and Matthias Zick Varul. Where these scholars examine the framing of the Fair Trade producer as always being based in the global South, this article explores an instance of a ‘distant Northern producer’ of sorts, with particular reference to the publishing of ‘francophone African literature’. The dominance of Northern publishers in this field creates a complex series of ‘normalisations of the North’, in which Paris is normalised as the centre of cultural production; the French language is normalised as the dominant language of culture; and non-print literatures are marginalised in global cultural production. Specific issues concerning intellectual production and property then may be seen as sitting uneasily alongside traditional models and perceptions of Fair Trade.

Keywords: livre équitable, International Alliance of Independent Publishers, francophone African literature
Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) constitutes 15% (600 tonnes) of global gold production but, as a sector, remains largely veiled to both businesses and consumers in developed Western markets. The movement towards the ‘responsible sourcing’ of such gold is beginning to gain traction, especially in the jewellery sector, but has started some two decades after equivalent movements for responsible coffee, cocoa and tea, and is accompanied by its own - often surprising - challenges. This article provides an overview of both the ASM landscape and the challenges facing miners and supply chain actors in delivering responsibly mined gold to the point of end-consumer products. It concludes with two examples of mass-balance models that Fairtrade is introducing to drive increases in the volumes of responsibly mined gold sold from mine sites, which accounts for and responds to the ‘burden’ of full traceability for both large- and small-scale supply chain actors.

Keywords: gold, mining, responsible sourcing, ASM, business, extractives, supply chain, traceability, Fairtrade gold
Policy changes over the past five years have dramatically reshaped the global cannabis market, opening up legal markets for medical cannabis and, increasingly, also for adult, non-medical use. Despite the fact that these shifts look set to bring a clear range of benefits in terms of health and human rights, there is concern over the many for-profit cannabis companies from the Global North that are aggressively competing to capture the licit spaces, squeezing out small and traditional cannabis farmers from the Global South. If the construction of the global cannabis prohibition regime was an historic mistake, then a transition towards a legally regulated market that concentrates profits in a handful of Big Pharma, Ag, Tobacco and Cannabis companies, while locking out small-scale farmers in the Global South, only serves to further this damaging legacy. The focus of Fair Trade cannabis must be to empower small and traditional producers in the cannabis trade, based on a number of first order principles, market strategies and public policies. Crucially, growers must be enabled to organise amongst themselves and forge coalitions with other actors in order to advocate for appropriate frameworks and interventions.

Keywords: cannabis, sustainable development, human rights, market strategy, cooperatives, war on drugs, drug policy, Fair Trade
Traidcraft Exchange and its sister business Traidcraft Plc have been developing Fair Trade supply chains for over three decades. As core 'Fairtrade'-certified commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea and bananas have become mainstream in the UK market since the late 1990s, Traidcraft has focused energies on bringing new innovative supply chains and new small-producer organisations into the wider Fair Trade system. The case study presented here is of palm oil sourced from smallholder farmers in Ghana's Eastern region: a commodity normally synonymous with environmental degradation and an area left behind by the economic development of Greater Accra. The case study seeks to demonstrate how Traidcraft's explicit focus on working with small producers and new innovative product ranges provides a counter-balance to consolidation of certified 'Fairtrade' around core commodities. At the same time, the case study highlights some of the challenges of bringing new products to market in the UK's current retail environment.

Keywords: palm oil, Ghana, smallholders, Fairtrade, Fair Trade, SME
This article describes Bioleft, an ‘open source’, highly collaborative seed breeding initiative, in order to encourage reflection on potential synergies with fair trade ideas and practices. Bioleft aims to develop and redistribute collective agency over seed breeding, as a response to the emergence of an oligopolistic seed industry. It is experimenting with novel approaches to seed innovation that increase the diversity of crop varieties, in order to support agricultural practices that are ignored by mainstream seed firms, particularly small-scale family farming and more ecologically and socially sustainable agricultural practices. More generally it is experimenting with new forms of social and productive organization based on norms of sharing and solidarity.

Keywords: Bioleft, Open-source seeds, Collaborative innovation