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Democracy in action: One of the hallmarks of the Fairtrade system is  helping producers organize and encouraging democratic principles. Yesterday Fairtrade International took producer involvement in decision-making to new levels. The General Assembly of the international Fairtrade system is now made up of 50 percent producers with an equal say in voting.

Get the full story here.

Brazil’s first ever Fairtrade town is spreading the word about Fairtrade loud and proud! Poco de Caldes gained Fairtrade status back in October, and now has over 60 public and private entities supporting Fairtrade, through selling products or raising awareness. What makes the city Pocos de Caldas so unique is the great mix of both Fairtrade producers and consumers: Fairtrade coffee and juice farmers have their farms close to the city, and are delighted to have this new opportunity to see their produce locally under Fairtrade conditions. In the run up to World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade supporters organized a Fairtrade breakfast  to raise awareness of the importance of buying sustainable products from small farmers. Consumers, shop-keepers and public authorities tucked into Fairtrade coffee and juices as well as homemade bread and biscuits prepared by the families and members of Assondontas, a Fairtrade cooperative in “Corrego D´antas” .

Brazil’s first ever Fairtrade town is spreading the word about Fairtrade loud and proud!
 
Poco de Caldes gained Fairtrade status back in October, and now has over 60 public and private entities supporting Fairtrade, through selling products or raising awareness. What makes the city Pocos de Caldas so unique is the great mix of both Fairtrade producers and consumers: Fairtrade coffee and juice farmers have their farms close to the city, and are delighted to have this new opportunity to see their produce locally under Fairtrade conditions.
 
In the run up to World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade supporters organized a Fairtrade breakfast  to raise awareness of the importance of buying sustainable products from small farmers. Consumers, shop-keepers and public authorities tucked into Fairtrade coffee and juices as well as homemade bread and biscuits prepared by the families and members of Assondontas, a Fairtrade cooperative in “Corrego D´antas” .

Does labour reform keep you up at night? Does improving the rights of workers get you up in the morning? Fairtrade International is in the process of reviewing our Hired Labour Standards to make them more effective for workers. If you have an interest in hired labour, check out our Standards in Progress page for more info on how you can get involved.
(Illustration from Fairtrade International’s Workers’ Rights brochure used in the field to teach workers about their rights)

Does labour reform keep you up at night? Does improving the rights of workers get you up in the morning? Fairtrade International is in the process of reviewing our Hired Labour Standards to make them more effective for workers. If you have an interest in hired labour, check out our Standards in Progress page for more info on how you can get involved.

(Illustration from Fairtrade International’s Workers’ Rights brochure used in the field to teach workers about their rights)

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On May 19, Madam Christiana Ohene-Agyare, President of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Ghana, passed away after a short illness.

Christiana, known as “Maa” or “Auntie Christy” to those she worked with, was the first woman elected to head Kuapa Kokoo – the biggest cocoa farmers’…

Sad passing of a dedicated Fair Trader. Madam Chrisiana Ohene-Agyare was President of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Ghana. Her dedication to the farmers she represented will be remembered and her leadership serves as an example to all.

Glory to God, our children have already finished school. The co-op gave us money to help pay for school and provided books and registration.

Abebech Argeta farms coffee with her husband and three children in Yirgalem, Ethiopia. They are members of the Fero Cooperative, a member of the Sidama Coffee Cooperative Union. Read their full story here.

Lee Byers is Fairtrade International’s Senior Advisor, Coffee and Tea with the Global Product Mangement team

As global Senior Advisor for Fairtrade tea and coffee, I am often struck by the difference in these two sectors. Generally speaking, the tea sector is very well established with good long term demand and in recent years, has achieved good prices for bulk-made tea. Tea is also largely an all-year-round, weekly crop with a relatively stable supply base. Market prices are also somewhat predictable driven by physical supply and demand of made tea.

In contrast, coffee is a seasonal, annual/bi-annual crop, requiring high investment/working capital while market pricing is highly volatile, dictated by a global NYC commodity price, driven by physical availability but also increasingly commodity speculation, creating high uncertainty and price risk. One of the key reason’s Fairtrade offers small coffee farmers a minimum price (US$ 1.40 per lb) plus an additional Fairtrade Premium (20 cents per lb) versus a current NYC price of around $1.33.

On this basis, the tea sector looks in good shape, but beneath the surface there are a number of structural weaknesses which must be addressed if we are to have a sustainable tea future. After 30 years of enduring low profitability, many tea growers have struggled to make sufficient investments in infrastructure and labour welfare, so there is a compelling need for change.

The Oxfam tea wage report, published today is therefore a timely and helpful contribution to a wider industry debate as to how we can improve worker welfare and move toward a living wage. As the Fairtrade International representative on the steering committee for this report, I have been privileged to help shape the scope and design of the study as well as facilitate key meetings with industry experts. While the results are indeed challenging, they are perhaps a spur to action for everyone on the tea sector, recognising that enduring solutions cannot be delivered by Fairtrade alone.

This week, I attended the second in a series of workshops hosted by Forum for the Future as part of the Tea 2030 project. While we are some way yet from finding solutions to complex sustainability issues, I am encouraged to find myself alongside representatives of major tea brands, retailer’s NGO’s, industry bodies and tea boards from around the world.

Fairtrade is not alone, the journey has begun and together I think we can begin to make a real difference to tea workers, their families and communities through a vibrant and sustainable tea industry.

Take a look at the recent Malawi study conducted by NRI University of Greenwich, which examines Fairtrade tea Premium impacts for workers and farmers.

Read Fairtrade International’s response to the Oxfam-Ethical Tea Partnership report.

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Fairtrade America, the CLAC (Latin American producer network), the NAPP (Asian producer network), Fairtrade Canada and Fairtrade International spent the weekend celebrating coffee, connecting farmers and traders, and having an all around great time at the SCAA Event in Boston. Trade fairs like this one play an important role in bringing producers and traders, roasters and retailers to talk business and continue pushing coffee further.

Left to right: Fairtrade farmers check out their new Fairtrade t-shirts; Brazilian coffee farmers cupping coffee at the Specialty Coffees of Brazil booth; Jose Abad-Puelles of Fairtrade Canada reviews some material with Bijumon Kurian of India; and Fairtrade coffee farmers from Huatusco, Mexico, get a taste of their own coffee in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Some great photos from the SCAA Coffee Conference in Boston. Producers meeting traders meeting business making connections!

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This is the coffee cuppers song, the ebb and flow, the slurp and spit. Sensory notes and subtle overtones. Yesterday at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual conference, the Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA), SEBRAE and Carmo Coffees teamed up with Fairtrade Regional Coordinator Catalina Jaramillo and Fairtrade farmers to hold a cupping session to show off winners of a Fairtrade quality contest that took place early in the year. This is just a small sample of the action.

…And now Fairtrade Saffron from Iran

After three years of patient preparation and collaboration between importers, traders and farmers: Saffron and Iran are on the Fairtrade map!

Saffron is derived from the dried stigmas of the purple saffron flower. Anything from 60,000 to 250,000 flowers (weighing around 100 kilos!) are needed to make just one kilogram of dried saffron. The flowers are individually harvested by hand and it takes at least forty hours’ labour to pick 150,000 flowers. No wonder it’s the most expensive spice in the world.

Around 85% of global saffron exports come from Iran. Production of the exotic spice is a real family affair. Every family member is involved in some way, whether it be harvesting, extracting fresh stigmas, hygienic drying, or processing and packaging. And that means each family is utterly dependent on the crop for their income. They have to produce good quality, and they have to find a buyer. This makes them very vulnerable to the whims of the market.

But thanks to a unique collaboration between importers, a processor, saffron producer families and Fairtrade, this is about to change.
In 2010, importers VARISTOR and Antonio Pina Diaz teamed up with the Global Saffron Company and Fairtrade field staff to support 40 saffron producer families in forming their own cooperative. It was a long process but  “Arghavan Dasht e Paeezan” co-op was finally legally registered  in October 2012 and, following a successful Fairtrade audit, has now become the world’s first Fairtrade certified saffron producer organization.

The farmers already have high expectations about the impact Fairtrade can have on their lives:

 “We expect it will enable us to raise the level of mechanization on our farms, which in turn will help us increase production. Farmers who have small pieces of land can learn to use modern technology effectively, by participating in training programs. We will then be able to improve our production and increase our annual income”.

When asked what Fairtrade Premium projects/activities they hope to develop, they told us:

“The Fairtrade Premium from the sale of our saffron will create a great sense of motivation and encouragement to us farmers. Projects such as purchasing appropriate cloth, hygienic gloves and proper tools for all members of the cooperative will enable us to perform better while further improving the quality of our saffron.   Another major project is to convert to organic farming practices, so we can produce organic saffron which is in demand from consumers”.

Arghavan Dasht e Paeezan’s Fairtrade saffron will soon be on sale in Switzerland.

If you are interested in sourcing Fairtrade saffron, please contact Sumedha Karunatillake: s.karunatillake-external@fairtrade.net

Like your coffee? Like it Fairtrade? Then keep up with our friends at  www.fairtradeamerica.org! Fairtrade America is the new organization representing the international Fairtrade system in the USA.
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In this photo: Birhanu Kabeto, a member of the Fero Cooperative in YIrgalem, Ethiopia, drops coffee cherries into his basket.

Like your coffee? Like it Fairtrade? Then keep up with our friends at  www.fairtradeamerica.org! Fairtrade America is the new organization representing the international Fairtrade system in the USA.

Share this picture & follow along!

In this photo: Birhanu Kabeto, a member of the Fero Cooperative in YIrgalem, Ethiopia, drops coffee cherries into his basket.

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