First Fair Trade Day Event Takes Place in Thailand

[Green Net]  This past 8th of May as the second Saturday of May was World Fair Trade Day with celebrations and events around the world. Green Net co-organized an event with a number of other Thai Fair Trade Organizations including: Thai Craft, Izara Arts, Lofty Bamboo, Lanna Café, Sawang Boran, Solidarity Group, and Thai Tribal Crafts. Within Thai Craft itself over 50 fair trade producer organizations joined and supported the event.

Green Net contributions included: a booth with fair trade products from Green Net, a second booth with books and materials published by Earth Net including the first book on fair trade in Thai language, Mr. Vitoon Panyakul contributed as a panel speaker on “What makes Fair Trade different?” and Mr. Michael Commons helped to facilitate and do interpretation for the 3 panel discussions and day’s programme.

The program began with a welcome and introduction to fair trade and the situation in Thailand by Stephen Salmon, one of the co-founders of Thai Craft with Auchaporn Prompaet providing Thai interpretation. Then came the 3 panel discussions on “What makes Fair Trade different?”, “How to support Fair Trade”, and “Becoming a Fair Trade Entrepreneur” which were interspersed by 2 fair trade fashion shows, the first being of naturally dyed traditional silk garments by the weavers of Sawang Boran, and the second of fairly made t-shirts and more under the brand name “Dignity Returns” by the Solidarity Group.

While the conference was going on the Sanam Chaikhet Organic Farmers, many of whom are also Green Net Cooperative members, were selling organic papaya salad and other specialties, and Lanna Café was brewing fair trade cappuccinos and lattes. And of course the Thai Craft fair was operating the whole day with over 50 producer groups selling their variety of fair trade products direct.

In spite of the slowdown due to the political situation in Thailand, the day was quite a success. 3 television crews and a number of other reporters covered the event. The panel discussions were interesting and thought provoking. Many who knew little to nothing about fair trade, came away with an understanding, and for the many contributors and other supporters, it was a chance to broaden ones understanding and better see the challenges and opportunities whether from the perspective of a producer, an entrepreneur, or a consumer.

It was a chance to see that there is quite wide support for fair trade in Thailand, but it was even more of a chance to set the Thai fair trade movement on its feet. All of the co-organizers came away feeling that it was indeed a good day, and that next year the event will be even better.