Two students from Underwood International College (UIC) visited National Secretariat Office, to understand the Indian aspect on Fair Trade system. Under a global research competition in Yonsei University, these students were selected to visit India. Ms Sunghee Jung and Ms Kian Lee got the opportunity to travel to India with a topic Fair Trade in India and get to know the future of Fair Trade in India. The objective behind the visit was to know how Indian system is working with the various aspects f Fair Trade System.
On 26th June 2015 they got the opportunity to interview FTFI President Mr Mallikarjuna Iytha. It was a good interactive session with the students. They shared their experience of visiting to India.
They said, “By researching the incentives of fair trade system in India, we can contribute to the further study on the reasons how fair trade system has sustained so far and its future prospects not only in India but also in the world.”
On 02nd July 2015, FTFI luckily arranged a meeting with our guide, mentor and board member Dr. K. Panchaksharam (Panchuji). Panchuji could guide them and elaborate the history of Fair trade in India. He shared his experiences with the students. They got to know many aspects of Fair Trade in India. They understood how Indian people are working for Fair Trade and how Ten Principles of Fair Trade are benefiting the artisans and producers at grassroots level.
The research results will be published in university journal and more than 5,000 colourful copies of brochures will also be published. The documents will be distributed and shared among Korean students, faculties and in interested Fair Trade and international economics affairs. The students were very eager to understand how India being the rising economic power has recently adopted Fair Trade system. They wanted to know how the Indian unique culture is contributing to Fair Trade. Their interest in topic was clearly visible in the questions they were asking related to Fair Trade and Indian aspect on Fair Trade system. Their visit will be helpful in promoting Fair Trade system of India to Korea as well.
The focus area for their research was largely on three aspects:
1) The content of incentives that suppliers and consumers gain (ex. income, working environment, organic farming),
2) Relations between the incentives and the specific price system under fair trade and
3) What specific features of India, such as the Contract Production system, contributed to the formation of incentives.
As for the research, they focused on one research object, rice. Rice is the staple food of Asian countries, and since rice self-sufficiency rate in Korea is falling gradually, it is expected that in future, rice would be the important trade items between Korea and India. Visiting rice farm, village and other fair trade institutions in India and conducting interview with farmers and staffs was also a part of their research.
Note from students:
It has been nearly 70 years since the concept of fair trade was first introduced to the world. Aiming for the protection of socially vulnerable producers, especially those who produce raw materials in under-developed countries, the fair trade system suggested the introduction of minimum price and social premium. Since such ideas were contrary to that of market system under which people accept the price determined through competition, there have been a lot of controversies surrounding the fair trade system so far. Its sustainability and its effect of redistribution of wealth were constantly questioned.
However, India-now noticed for its rapid GDP growth higher than that of China-commenced the fair trade system in November 2013. As a student studying Economics, the event was very intriguing since it means that despite all the negative remarks surrounding the prospect of fair trade system, India still finds the fair trade system attractive. In other words, there are incentives that fair trade system can provide for India. Our goal is to investigate on the current incentives under fair trade system in India.