The theme of inequality is in my opinion the most important area relative to our Human Geography course. It deals with the unfair treatment and exploitation of underdeveloped and developing countries. We studied this in Human Geography by looking at the major commodity chains such as coffee and cotton. Networks, interdependence and globalisation also play a huge part in the production and transfer of these commodities but it is on the inequality and exploitation that I will focus my attention.
Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant. It can be spun into thread to create a textile most commonly used in clothing. The growth of cotton requires a predominantly warm climate with occasional rain but weather must remain frost free. Warmer climates such as Eastern Asia, America and Africa are very suitable weather systems for its growth. China, India, The United States and Brazil are among the leading exporters of cotton in the world.
Inequality has long been associated with cotton production. It was a central point in keeping of slaves and the practice of slave labour in the South in 17th and 18th century America. Conditions have drastically improved in the US today, but the exploitation of cotton farmers in other developing countries such as Brazil, India and Burkina Faso has brought much attention to the issue if Fair Trade. Millions of poor farmers are dependent on these commodities such as cotton and on the price they receive for their harvest. In many developing countries, three or fewer primary commodity exports constitute the bulk of export revenue. Many farmers, often without other means of subsistence, are expected to produce more and more, no matter how low the prices sink.
Fair trade agreements and the Fair Trade mark on products exported mean companies and consumers now have a choice, but not an obligation, to use fairly acquired goods from even markets without any fixing of prices, a step in the right direction...