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Fairtrade on the road


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If they improve their growing, they can improve their income. I feel very proud when I see a farmer who has taken on my advice and is now doing well.

Sunny Babu is a plant doctor for Fairtrade farmers in India. Find out about his challenges and the big difference Fairtrade farmer members in MASS are making in their communities.

Read his full story here.

But the strength of the Fairtrade model is that co-ops really understand because they’re part of it. They’re not detached in any way from the reality on the ground. They understand what the needs are and they can prioritize how that money is used effectively.

Photographer Sean Hawkey on the real impact of Fairtrade in farming communities. See images and the full interview here.

Large-scale partnerships are all the rage, but could they be exacerbating poverty? A new  study published by the Fairtrade Foundation UK warns that some agricultural public-private partnerships (PPPs) in Africa appear to prioritize commercial interests while ignoring the needs of the smallholder farmers they claim to help – and they could even make things worse!
Read the story and download the report here.

Large-scale partnerships are all the rage, but could they be exacerbating poverty? A new  study published by the Fairtrade Foundation UK warns that some agricultural public-private partnerships (PPPs) in Africa appear to prioritize commercial interests while ignoring the needs of the smallholder farmers they claim to help – and they could even make things worse!

Read the story and download the report here.

Real banana farmers checking out real bananas on display in Germany.

Juan Aquino Vilchez (at right in both pictures) and Jimmy Yarly Nunjar Quevedo (middle) of ACPROBOQUEA, a Fairtrade cooperative in Peru, visited Bonn, Germany, to take part in Fairtrade Germany’s Fairtour.

Are there Fairtrade bananas on your supermarket shelf? Request better bananas from your favorite supermarket.

Citizens empowered to enjoy dignity and freedom – this is one of the ways we define democracy. The International Day of Democracy on 15 September gives us an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.

Fairtrade encourages democratic decision-making and principles throughout our global system. Our experience has taught us that local ownership and leadership are key to increasing impact for Fairtrade farmers, workers and their communities.

When Fairtrade farmers and workers sell their products on Fairtrade terms, they receive the Fairtrade Premium, in addition to the purchase price. Producers themselves democratically decide in their own general assembly how to spend this Premium on projects to improve their communities and businesses.

At a regional level, Fairtrade producer networks are beginning to take over the producer services function, giving producers a greater say in the type of services and support they receive. Fairtrade Africa now handles producer services in Africa and the Middle East, while the producer networks in Latin America and Asia are moving in a similar direction.

At the global level, Fairtrade farmers and workers share decision-making responsibilities in our general assembly, on our board of directors and in various committees. Fairtrade’s commitment is to involve farmers and workers in decision-making, planning and implementation. By uniting all of our members and working together with like-minded organizations, we can and will change the rules of trade and enable farmers and workers to map out their own future.

Alida Strauss is General Manager of Heiveld Cooperative in South Africa.
Alida left her parent’s remote rooibos farm to attend school in Cape Town, 400 kilometres away. When she returned she got a job at the co-op as a bookkeeper, getting and promoted to General Manager in 2010. Alida is passionate about her work and her community, and is determined to pass this on to young people.  “At Heiveld, we try to do things to keep people here, to make it exciting for them and give them the self-confidence to believe in themselves….Go get your education, but come back and do something for your community”.  Heiveld uses a portion of the Fairtrade Premium to enable young people to go to university. Alida holds talks at the local school and invites students on excursions to the cooperative.  The job is not without its challenges, but Alida is proud of what she and her colleagues have achieved.“I’ve learned a lot and I am still learning,” she explains. “But it’s our job to educate people and tell them, ‘you have a right to have your say: it’s your cooperative. Be proud of what’s yours’.”Alida’s story features on the centre spread of our 2013-14 Annual Report, released this week. Why not download the full report and discover more about Fairtrade farmers and workers worldwide?

Alida Strauss is General Manager of Heiveld Cooperative in South Africa.

Alida left her parent’s remote rooibos farm to attend school in Cape Town, 400 kilometres away. When she returned she got a job at the co-op as a bookkeeper, getting and promoted to General Manager in 2010.
 
Alida is passionate about her work and her community, and is determined to pass this on to young people.
 
“At Heiveld, we try to do things to keep people here, to make it exciting for them and give them the self-confidence to believe in themselves….Go get your education, but come back and do something for your community”.
 
Heiveld uses a portion of the Fairtrade Premium to enable young people to go to university. Alida holds talks at the local school and invites students on excursions to the cooperative.
 
The job is not without its challenges, but Alida is proud of what she and her colleagues have achieved.

“I’ve learned a lot and I am still learning,” she explains. “But it’s our job to educate people and tell them, ‘you have a right to have your say: it’s your cooperative. Be proud of what’s yours’.”

Alida’s story features on the centre spread of our 2013-14 Annual Report, released this week. Why not download the full report and discover more about Fairtrade farmers and workers worldwide?

Photographer Sean Hawkey has worked in international development, advocacy and humanitarian efforts in 40 countries, spending 10 years in Latin America alone. Now as a freelance photographer and communicator, Hawkey travels the globe documenting good works. Thanks to funding from Irish Aid, Hawkey, along with photographer James Rodriguez, traveled the whole of Central America making images and recording the stories of Fairtrade farmers. Hawkey has also made pictures of Fairtrade farmers and workers in Senegal and Peru. See more of Hawkey’s photos here.

You had an intense travel schedule throughout Central America, how did it go?

I drove over 50,000 kilometers going between Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and about a third of the trip was in first gear because all of the roads were so rough. It was a long journey, but a fascinating one. I was able to take photos of most of the producer organizations and in many of them I’d visit several farms. We deliberately chose the harvest time for coffee, but also I covered cocoa, and honey. I’ve been stung by Africanized bees in the Peten jungle, made photos of sesame and peanut producers, cashews, cotton, and a variety of other products. 

What type of ground did you cover for the majority of that 50,000 km?

Coffee typically! For a good coffee - the best ground is high, so typically we’d be going up steep mountain roads that aren’t paved. They’re just dirt paths, no gravel or anything. They’re easily washed away. Need to be frequently repaired to get product out of the farm. Almost none of the producers are near the good paved roads.

Then for cocoa, going down into Wasalala in Nicaragua is the worst road I’ve ever been on. It’s like driving across ploughed fields and stone quarries. I had three punctures on the way down. When I got there, people said, “What? You only brought one spare tire?!”

As a photographer, what do you experience in the field?

There’s a necessary process of sitting down and talking to people. If they’re coffee producers, they always like you to taste their coffee, but it does take time to build up a bit of rapport with people. As a photographer what I want to do is make best use of the golden hour, which is when the sun is low in the morning and in the afternoon because that’s the nicest to shoot in. But it’s difficult to get the farmer to understand the necessities of a photographer <with all of the demands of daily work>.

But I also wanted to show, in a lot of the images, what normal life is. I think these are a connecting point, reference points, like showing a woman in her kitchen to spend some time if she’s cooking a meal - that’s what people can relate to. It’s those normal everyday things that give us reference points to identify with people in Fairtrade across the world.

How did you get into photography and storytelling?

I began visiting Latin America for aid and development work, so I have a background in rural development. The best development work is getting those long-term decisions right, the political decisions and structural things rather than giving out food to people. It’s these long-term things that are most significant.

Anywhere I go, when I ask what people are most proud of, it’s normally about long-term structural changes and there is a really important role for communications here. You need to convince people of the usefulness of any project you’re doing. It’s an absolutely key part of it.

We need to show people evidence of how Fairtrade is changing people’s lives – and it really is changing tens of thousands of people’s lives. So that’s how I got into the process of taking photographs.

What do you see as the benefits of Fairtrade?

I think the whole Fairtrade process of becoming certified and the regular audits encourages people to think strategically about how they’re using the benefits of Fairtrade – The Premium and so on. Typically the cooperatives are small enough that they have a really good sense of what the needs on the ground are.

And that contrasts with the way a lot of development organizations work, which they send someone in from the outside to come in and look at what the needs are, which may contrast with what the real needs and priorities are.

But the strength of the Fairtrade model is that co-ops really understand because they’re part of it. They’re not detached in any way from the reality on the ground. They understand what the needs are and they can prioritize how that money is used effectively.

You have visited much of the world. What is the most impressive thing you observed on your trips for Fairtrade?

The value of women in their communities and their co-ops has changed enormously. And I’ve seen situations where, for example in Senegal, women wouldn’t even be allowed to sit with the men, and when Fairtrade came they said, women have to sit with the men and they have to have power of decision-making exactly the same as the men. It’s radically changed. 

This isn’t one of the big selling points of Fairtrade, but in those villages in Senegal its greatest strength is that it completely changed the power of women in the community, dramatic change. Fairtrade demands it, so they have to change the structure of the cooperative, the way it’s managed.

When farmers can sell on Fairtrade terms and band together in cooperatives, they can begin to move up the value chain.
Jose Miramor Pineda, of the Fairtrade cooperative COCASJOL, in Honduras, is in charge of drying the coffee at his cooperative before it&#8217;s bagged and shipped.
Photo by Sean Hawkey

When farmers can sell on Fairtrade terms and band together in cooperatives, they can begin to move up the value chain.

Jose Miramor Pineda, of the Fairtrade cooperative COCASJOL, in Honduras, is in charge of drying the coffee at his cooperative before it’s bagged and shipped.

Photo by Sean Hawkey

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