Bangladeshi handicrafts makers get global recognition

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Bangladeshi handicrafts makers get global recognition

Four Bangladeshi handicraft producers and organisations have been certified as “guaranteed fair trade organisations” for meeting the growing demand for ethical and sustainable products.

Hathay Bunano, Thanapara Swallows Development Society, Prokritee, and Base Bangladesh got the recognition from the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).

Set up in 2005, Hathay Bunano is well-known for making Pebble brand toys which are sold in 37 countries. It employs 8,000 disadvantaged women as artisans.

Thanapara Swallows exports its garments made of handloom fabrics to Japan, Denmark, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. It employs 250 people, according to Md Raihan Ali, executive director of the non-governmental organisation.

Base Bangladesh, also known as Bangladesh Shilpo Ekota, is a network that works for the promotion, marketing and distribution of handicrafts made by 17 producers' groups in Khulna region.

These groups employ more than 10,000 men and women. Their products are exported to Italy, Spain, the UK, Sweden and Japan. Prokritee supports more than 1,500 artisans in rural areas to make  goods from renewable sources of materials such as recycled sari, waste jute, silk, handmade paper, natural fibres and leaves.

The WFTO certifies organisations operating in any part of the supply chain -- from producers to retailers.

An entity needs to respect the international fair trade standards to be recognised as a guaranteed fair trade organisation.

The WFTO label, the first of its kind, was unveiled in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday.

With the fair trade label, consumers will be able to identify products in the international marketplace that meet high economic, social

and environmental sustainability criteria.

“There are no international public regulations for the certification of fair trade products. Private entities can deliberately set up their own criteria and certify a single product without considering the practices of the company that sells these products,” said Rudi Dalvai, president of the WFTO.

“That is why, it is of utmost importance to have a label that allows consumers to clearly identify the organisations who are 100 percent committed to fair trade,” he said in a statement. 

“It's a big achievement for handicraft producers in Bangladesh,” said Samantha Morshed, founder of Hathay Bunano.

She said, for some years now there has been a labelling system for commodities such as coffee and chocolate. “It's great that the World Fair Trade Organisation is now introducing a label for handicrafts as well.”

The German organisation said, by buying products carrying the new label, traders and consumers can make a concrete contribution to creating a world that will fight poverty, social injustice and discrimination, and support economically disadvantaged small producers.

The principles of fair trade include creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, transparency and accountability, no child labour, women's economic empowerment, and freedom of association.

At present, there are about 50 fair trade organisations around the world, according to the WFTO website.