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Many fair trade advocates willingly contribute to a fairer world for disadvantaged producers. But where does fair trade fit in the larger notion of alternative trade?

In this dense-but-approachable short text, Gavin Fridell, the Canada research chair in international development studies at Saint Mary’s University, examines the concept of alternative trade and how it could provide insight into the growing movement for fair trade. Fridell loosely defines alternative trade as a model that offers three potential components: state power, social welfare, and favour toward poorer groups....

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It’s hard to imagine a tougher way to earn a living than growing and harvesting sugar cane by hand. Small-scale sugar cane farmers in countries such as Paraguay, Belize, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Malawi face dangerous challenges every day challenges that impact their personal health and the environment.

Many farms are located in isolated rural areas where health care, education, transportation, and clean water are often lacking. In traditional farming situations, a sugar cane farmer typically earns US$1 to US$5 a day. To survive, they often need to subsidize their income by...

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On January 21, 1980, with an over-inflated US dollar, and cannons still cooling from the recent Iranian revolution and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the price of gold soared to a-then-unheard-of US$850 per ounce. The next day, the price nosedived. But the surge had launched a new economic path for millions of workers in the developing world: artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM). Over the next three decades, the price of gold fluctuated (reaching an all-time low of US$251.71 per ounce in 1999), but greater numbers of impoverished men and women...

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Abu al Balad, dressed in a traditional black tunic, drives an old, unsteady tractor toward his olive grove on the opposite side of Burqin village. The early morning sun streams between concrete houses, lighting the twisting rugged bark of the neighbourhood trees. I cling awkwardly to the side of al Balad’s tractor as we rumble along dirt roads, over hills, and across agricultural plains—all of which hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.

Precious oil

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Earlier this week, the government of Australia announced that it would be allocating $4.5 million "to build support for Fairtrade products in Australia and link smallholder producers in developing Indo-Pacific countries to international and regional markets". This is incredibly exciting. It is something that the Canadian Government could learn from and is something that needs to be seriously considered in the years ahead.

Traditional aid models have evolved greatly in recent years, but further evolution is needed. Connecting "aid" to empowerment, through fair...

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