Fair trade can help alleviate poverty, says Dr Sainju

Kathmandu, February 27:

The poverty alleviation agenda of the government is being well-supported by the Fair Trade Group Nepal (FTGN) providing employment opportunities to more than 7,000 marginalised people in 46 districts of the country.

Though the concept of fair trade was introduced, as early as 1960’s in Nepal, till mid 90’s without any organisation to look after it, the sector did not see any considerable growth. But now it has gained momentum in recent times.

Speaking at a workshop on ‘Fair Trade: Sustainable Development,’ Dr Mohan Man Sainju, chairman at Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) said that exclusion is a major hurdle in the fight against poverty in Nepal. “The globalisation process is yet another challenge to us. Adopting and adjusting the globalisation process to our needs and benefit would help in mitigating poverty,” Sainju said.

The gap between rich and poor countries and the gap between the haves and haves-not within a country needs bridging; Sainju said adding that our development efforts over the last five decades have not been able to address equity in the right way. “Fair trade concept could be an important tool for addressing excluded and marginalised populace and also equitable distribution of resources,” Sainju said.

Presenting a paper on ‘World Wide Movement of Fair Trade’ Chandra P Kachhipati, secretary at FTGN said, “Fair trade is a means for sustainable development and poverty alleviation for developing countries. Highlighting the inequitable distribution of resources, Kachhipati said that 17 per cent of the world population consumes 80 per cent of resources and they are from developed countries whereas the remaining 20 per cent is shared by the 83 per cent of the total population who dwells in the least developed countries. Fair trade could be pivotal in balancing the inequitable resource distribution, given the fact that it provides opportunity to marginalised and economically disadvantaged producers.

Inge Op Ten Berg from Fair Trade Original, the Netherlands, said that Nepal being a landlocked country, cannot compete with the international market in terms of production. However, the uniqueness of Nepali products is a comparative benefit for Nepali producers.

Joyce Burkholder, representative from Ten Thousand Villages, the United States said, “Connecting buyers with artisan by building a trade relationship that is long-term and sustainable is necessary to support the small scale producers.”

Sellable products in the US are those that attract customers with some kind of uniqueness to them, she said and urged for quality production adhering to the rules of International Fair Trade Organisation to penetrate the American market.

The workshop was organised by the FTGN as part of the 7th Handicraft Trade Fair being organised at Birendra International Conference Centre.

The workshop was participated in by representatives from government offices, non-government organisations, and entrepreneurs.