This entry continues our Big Swap series with rice. The Big Swap is a simple idea: for the next two weeks, swap out something you buy regularly for the Fair Trade alternative. Coffee, chocolate, cutting boards, bananas, and more. Learn more.
The Broken System
According to the Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE), rice is a main staple for 3 billion people around the world and employs over 1 billion farmers on all continents except Antarctica and yet world prices have fallen for rice farmers. In Thailand, the world’s biggest rice exporter, 68% of farmers have debt that is three times their income, making it nearly impossible to get out of debt or send their children to school. Often, farmers turn to other ways of making money, seeking work in sweatshops or in the commercial sex industry.
Additionally, much of today’s rice cultivation uses heavy pesticides and fertilizers. This is expensive over time, further contributing to the farmer’s debt. And making them sick with pesticide-related health issues.
Fair Trade Rice is not only of highest quality but ensures that farmers can get out of debt and care for their families. Organic Fair Trade Rice, like our rice from Alter-Eco further ensures sustainability for the environment. Due to the changes in farming methods, soil fertility is improved and there is no longer chemical runoff into local rivers which was negatively impacting wildlife. Farmers have reported noticing an increase in frogs, birds and fish.
“Rice is something that is very important to the farmer, the farmer’s family, and to our livelihood. It’s not just food for us. If you buy Fair Trade organic food for your health and the health of your family, you should know that you are getting more than that, because you are helping people to construct another world, an alternative for living.”
-Pakphum Inpaen, Thai Fair Trade Jasmine rice farmer
Join Carolyn Barnwell, in the video, Grains of Change: The People’s Voice as she journeys through northeastern Thailand to visit with farmers who are practicing Fair Trade, organic, sustainable agriculture.
We want to hear what you’re Swapping, why you’re Swapping, where you’re Swapping, we want to know! So share your swapping story in the comments section of this post.