Kady Waylie, a cotton farmer in Sitaoulé Bananding, Senegal, throws freshly picked cotton onto a heap. The harvest is a celebration that marks the end of a season’s hard work.
Fairtrade products are produced by 1.24 million farmers & workers. Sold in over 120 countries. Bought by millions of consumers, sold by thousands of companies. It’s time to ‘Unlock the Power of the Many’ and help Fairtrade do more. Read up on our new Strategic Framework that will guide our work in the coming years.
We were all saddened and shocked at the loss of Raul del Aguila, a global leader for trade justice, a dedicated fair trader, a coffee man, and a friend.
“Raúl was a tireless servant advocating for trade justice and pushing for the interests of the small producers everywhere,” said Marike de Pena, Vice-Chair of the Board at Fairtrade International, President of CLAC, and Director of Banelino, a banana cooperative in the Dominican Republic.
Members of COPROCAEL, a Honduran coffee cooperative, stand in front of a member’s coffee field. COPROCAEL is also the first Fairtrade organization to receive a loan from the Fairtrade Access Fund, a new initiative from Fairtrade International, Incofin and Grameen Foundation to provide affordable finance options to producers.
Do you know which country has the most Fairtrade sugar farmers? Or how workers in Colombia spent the Fairtrade Premium they earned? Check out ‘Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade 2012’, a compendium of data and summaries of key research exploring the impacts of Fairtrade.
“What’s the most important change you’d like to see in your region?” I asked the cotton farmers of ‘Pratibha - Vasudha Jaivik Krishi Kalyan Samiti’. “We wish our children could get better education and communicate in English one day,” they replied. So I trained them on Fairtrade Premium project planning, using a school project as an example.
That session is now three years back. Since then, these cotton farmers have come a long way. They saved their Fairtrade Premium and set up “Vasudha Vidya Vihar”: their own school to impart quality education to poor children from farming community. After starting in 2010 with very basic infrastructure and just a small number of children, the school now imparts quality education at a reasonable fee to 425 students from very remote villages of Karhi, Khargone district in Central India. The school now generates enough revenue to meet its operational expenses.
“So, what is the plan now?” I asked during our latest review meeting. ‘We want to develop this school up to degree college level” the farmers answered. “And what if your kids decide not to work on the farms when they are highly educated?” I ask, slightly provocatively. “They would become better farmers and apply new techniques on farms once they are educated’, is the confident reply.
The farmers are concerned that they might not have enough funds to realize this vision in the short term, due to falling Fairtrade cotton sales in their region. Nevertheless, their commitment and determination to make it happen is plain to see.
Anup Singh is a Fairtrade liaison officer in the North of India.
Many cotton farmers around the world are benefitting from Fairtrade, but struggling to get enough sales to drive bigger change in their communities. We are working on a new model for Fairtrade cotton, which will lead to allow more companies to engage with us and mean more sales for farmers. More news on this later this year!
As we continue our journey to become fully Fairtrade, we’re excited to announce we’ll be partnering with Fairtrade International to certify our products in the US. You will see their logo adorning all our ice cream, frozen yogurts, and sorbets by the end of this year.
Great stuff to see here! Thanks friends! Happy to see you in the Tumblr-verse!
This little piece of paper is important. When a farmer delivers his/her coffee to the co-op, they receive a receipt and the co-op keeps a copy. At the end of the season the farmer collects his/her pay along with an extra bonus if the co-op made more on the sales of their coffee and the co-op receives the Fairtrade Premium on top of that. Co-op members decide democratically how best to use that for their community.
It’s coffee harvest time in much of the world. Here a farmer drops coffee cherries into his basket in in Yirgalem, Ethiopia. Photo from the Fairtrade certified Fero Cooperative, a member of the Sidama Coffee Cooperative.
Demonstrating leaf rot
Did you know that coffee is the second most important product after tea for Asian Fairtrade producers? Several Indian producers sold Fairtrade Robusta coffee for the first time in 2012. Now they are keen to offer quality coffee in 2013 too. At the Asia Pacific Coffee Forum for Fairtrade producers held last year in Indonesia, Indian producers identified training on coffee production and quality as one of the priority needs. This follow-up training session was one small but very significant move to help achieve that.
More than 40 farmers from three Fairtrade coffee co-ops met at a coffee research station in Wayanad District, Kerala to get trained by the Coffee Board Scientists on the theme “Seed to Cup.”
Over the course of the day, various scientists gave farmers all kinds of information and tips. Mr Prakasan revealed that productivity in Kerala is below the national average and just half of the potential. Dr Suresh Kumar explained how simple interventions like timely pruning, grafting techniques and irrigation can vastly improve yields. Dr Vijayalakshmi talked of pests and diseases and informed the farmers of simple steps to ward them off. Mr George talked about post-harvesting techniques and highlighted how bad practices in drying and storage influence coffee quality. Outturn of coffee, some bad practices like excessive pruning, requirement of shade etc were also covered during the discussion.
Every farmer took something different out of the session. Annakutty liked the information provided on pests and diseases, while Sudha emphasized the relevance of grafting techniques to the farmers. George was particularly keen to organize a training for his farmers on post harvest techniques. Vineesh hoped that this training is only a beginning and talked of a more frequent training from the coffee board. All the farmers groups were keen to take up the offer to get their soil tested by the coffee board, and to receive their recommendations for nutrient application.
The organic farmers pointed out some shortcomings like lack of suitable information for mixed cropping systems and not enough stress on organic farming research. There is always room for improvement!
As the aroma of South Indian filter coffee filled the air, a drizzle brought the curtain down on the program. Meanwhile, I mentally started scheduling more coffee trainings in 2013 to benefit more farmers….
Raju Ganapathy is a Fairtrade liaison officer in India, supporting farmers to join and benefit from Fairtrade.
Check out the latest Fairtrade newsletter. Journey with us to Senegal to visit cotton farmers, learn about our new partnership on Fair Carbon Credits with the Gold Standard, or read about Jamaican sugar producers.
Just one more day until our “On the Trail of Fairtrade Cotton” video goes live! Here are a few photos taken during filming to whet your appetite.
And for a sneak preview of the film, watch the “making of” here.
I travelled to Doha with Fairtrade producer representatives from four different regions, all struggling with climate change on a daily basis. For them, the lack of progress at this year’s talks was bemusing, and frustrating.
“I am disappointed because we have put so much hope in finance and they are not making a decision, said Chief Adam Tampuri, a cashew nut producer and Chair of Fairtrade Africa. “I am surprised that the countries who have often helped us in times of disaster and famine are still hesitating to make finance for climate adaptation available. Surely we need to be engaging in preventative measures, instead of reacting when the damage is done?”
On a political level, little came out of the Doha talks to offer farmers or developing countries any cheer. There were no commitments from developed countries to cut their emissions further. There is still no significant money being put on the table to help developing countries adapt (despite a target of $100 billion a year by 2020). Even the impassioned plea of the Philippines negotiator, made as his country was battered by the umpteenth typhoon this year, did not lead to a shift in mind-set.
But away from the disappointment of the negotiations, there are many initiatives that give cause for hope.
At side events, in interviews and at round-table discussions, Fairtrade producers brought their real-life climate change experiences to the table. Tomy Mathew explained how fair prices for a whole range of Fairtrade products mean that farmers diversify, protecting variety and increasing their resilience to climate change. Carlos Vargas spoke passionately about the huge potential for hydroelectricity on coffee farms in Costa Rica, and his dream of making them all energy self-sufficient. Chief Adam shared the indigenous methods his cashew farmers are using to adapt to climate change. Each has a vision for their community and country. Each of them is connected to thousands of farmers and people in their villages and in their communities. If they just had some more cash and technical assistance they would implement measures in a shot.
Our new collaboration with The Gold Standard Foundation will give these producers welcome opportunities to benefit from the carbon market, and access finance that will help them carry out more carbon mitigation projects. We also secured backing from a group of European politicians in our call for more adaptation funds for smallholders.
And though this COP is over, our engagement certainly isn’t. We will continue to lobby governments, seek adaptation and mitigation finance and support our farmers in the fight against climate change.
Vicky Pauschert works in the communications department at Fairtrade International.