Fair Trade India, this writer has found, is a great blessing for India. There is much to learn about Fair Trade and its positions all over the world but today we concentrate on India and my guest for the topic is Jayakumar, a Development Communicator from India who runs Fair Trade India.
Michell: Jayakumar, what is Fair Trade India? How long has your shop been in existence?
Jayakumar: Fair Trade India is a brand that gives a common identity and exclusively sells fair trade products in India. At present we offer this brand identity to shops owned by our FTF-I members only. Many of the shops have been in existence for the last three decades, although in a smaller way but part of the fair trade movement for a long time. At present we have 27 shops under the FTI brand of which 20 are new ones, which have existed since the last one decade.
Michell: Why is Fair Trade fair?
Jayakumar: Because it is oriented towards economic and social uplift of the artisans and farmers who otherwise are not connected to avenues for sustainable income and opportunities for learning and capacity building.
Michell: What is the best aspect of Fair Trade in your opinion?
Jayakumar: The first principle of Fair Trade, which is creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers.
Michell: Please tell us a bit about the products you make?
Jayakumar: The majority of our members are producing handicrafts and handloom-based products—things such as fabric, towels, handbags, chocolates, and much more. In the recent years, many of them have graduated themselves to production and marketing of trendy lifestyle products by upgrading the skills of the artisans. Of late, many organizations that are into food and other agro based products have also become members of FTF-I. So at present, FTF-I product basket consists of handicrafts, lifestyle products, and naturally produced food.
Michell: Where can we find the products in India and online? Can people take a tour of the shops?
Jayakumar: We have 27 fair trade india shops. There are 57 more shops which may come under the brand in future. In addition to this, around 12 FTF-I members are offering products online as well.
Michell: What do the owners have to say about Fair Trade?
Jayakumar: Mr. Kamal Kishore, one of our members from JKSMS, Jaipur, Rajasthan says, “Fair trade is a platform to explore market on the basis of fair values.”
Michell: What are the goals for your organization in the near future?
Jayakumar: Visibility of FTF-I. Engaging consumers in fair trade promotion, especially youngsters and students. More retail channels to sell fair trade products in India.
Michell: Do you think that Fair Trade should be noticed more by Bollywood?
Jayakumar: Getting endorsements from Bollywood will help to get visibility, but FTF-I is yet to take steps regarding that.
Michell: Where can anyone contact you in order to ask more questions or give input?
Jayakumar: We have online presence through FB, twitter and our organization’s website-www.fairtradeforum.org. People are welcome to send their queries/suggestions/views at email@example.com.
About the Interviewer
Michell Spoden is the author of Stricken Yet Crowned and is also pursuing a transitional housing project for woman with an agricultural aspect. She has a degree in Business Science Administration and is finishing her bachelor’s in Project Management.