The Fairtrade Foundation has received funding worth £750,000 from the Department for International Development.
The boost came on the eve of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 1 to 13 March.
The foundation intends to use the grant to offer its Fairtrade agreements to more producers in the southern hemisphere and expand the range and distribution of Fairtrade products in the UK. DfID has given a further £164,000 to raise awareness of Fairtrade among British consumers.
Retail sales of Fairtrade goods reached £140m in 2004, a 51 per cent increase on the previous year.
"Millions are now choosing to buy products with the Fairtrade mark, to make sure farmers gain guaranteed benefits," said the foundation's executive director, Harriet Lamb.
More than 800 types of goods, including products such as wines and footballs, now bear the Fairtrade logo. This is up from around 150 in 2003. Sales are more than doubling every two years.
The foundation licenses the products if they meet internationally agreed standards, ensuring farmers receive fair and stable prices for their goods.
The foundation is promoting Fairtrade Fortnight by claiming that the roller-coaster of fluctuating commodity prices can have the same catastrophic effect on the lives of developing world farmers as natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami.
Around 7,500 local and national events are due to take place during the two-week programme, including taste tests of Fairtrade food, conferences, fun runs and marches.
- See Third Voice, p25.