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Showing posts tagged “Fair Trade”

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.

How do you like your coffee?
From this point on, you still have to wait a bit. Here workers at Rio Azul Cooperative in Guatemala load up freshly washed green coffee to begin drying on their patios. Once dry, it&#8217;ll be sorted, bagged and stored - before eventually being shipped to your favorite roaster.
Photo by Sean Hawkey

How do you like your coffee?

From this point on, you still have to wait a bit. Here workers at Rio Azul Cooperative in Guatemala load up freshly washed green coffee to begin drying on their patios. Once dry, it’ll be sorted, bagged and stored - before eventually being shipped to your favorite roaster.

Photo by Sean Hawkey

The sugar producers of Manduvira in Paraguay continue to garner great coverage. Check out this article (in Spanish) on how they climbed the ladder from being a small group of sugar farmers to owning one of the world’s first producer-owned Fairtrade organic sugar mills.

A member of the Toledo Cocoa Growers Association in Belize speaks at the organization&#8217;s annual General Assembly. For small farmers, organizing into cooperatives and associations equals power. Farmers benefit from additional services and can negotiate contracts together.
Check out the latest Fairtrade Monitoring and Impact Report for  info on the more than 1.4 million Fairtrade farmers and workers.
Photo by James Rodriguez

A member of the Toledo Cocoa Growers Association in Belize speaks at the organization’s annual General Assembly. For small farmers, organizing into cooperatives and associations equals power. Farmers benefit from additional services and can negotiate contracts together.

Check out the latest Fairtrade Monitoring and Impact Report for  info on the more than 1.4 million Fairtrade farmers and workers.

Photo by James Rodriguez

Alina Amador (right) is a Project Manager in Fairtrade International’s Pricing Unit. This year she ran into Soonthorn Sritawee, from Blue River Products, while at an organic foods trade show. Sritawee is an exporter from Thailand who works closely with lychee producers in Thailand

One of the core features of Fairtrade is pricing – while we don’t set final prices, we do create Fairtrade Minimum Prices by calculating the average sustainable costs of production. This can serve as a starting point for negotiations when prices are higher and protection when the market is low.

In 2013, a group of small lychee producers in North Thailand banded together to create what is called a community enterprise in Thailand  so they could become Fairtrade certified . The farmers worked with Blue River Products, their manufacturer/exporter partner, which is also the key market link to bring their canned lychee to the Swiss market.

At the time of the group’s application, Fairtrade pricing was only available for lychee from Eastern Africa. We worked with the group to determine if the same Minimum Prices could apply for lychee from other areas. This project involved communication between the pricing team and the producers and manufacturers to gain more knowledge on the supply chain, the local market conditions and prices for fresh lychee. This information assured us that an extension of the existing prices from Eastern Africa was suitable for the Thai market as well.

While at a conference this year, I met up with Soonthorn Sritawee (pictured) from Blue River Products, and he had exciting news. Our fruitful cooperation resulted in new market opportunities for next years´ harvest and the organization has at least one container of lychees destined for the European market – a purchase that will make a big difference for his community.

Fairtrade is not the magic cure-all for poverty, but farmers have pride in knowing that clean water wells, the classroom for their children, and the roadway giving easier access to the port, were paid for through their efforts to produce quality products.

Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fairtrade International, on revising her book ‘Fighting the Banana Wars and Other Fairtrade Battles’. Order the new edition here.

Read Harriet’s full commentary on the process at the Guardian.

Farmers at COSAGUAL, a Fairtrade cooperative in Honduras, celebrated the organization&#8217;s 20th anniversary recently. More than 150 members and their families gathered together to celebrate the triumphs and struggles. An infusion of young people in the organization has them looking forward to the next 20 years. 
(Speaking of anniversaries, our member the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK is celebrating their 20 years as well. Check out their new website here.)
In the photo Martina Mejía of COSAGUAL harvests coffee - photo by Sean Hawkey.

Farmers at COSAGUAL, a Fairtrade cooperative in Honduras, celebrated the organization’s 20th anniversary recently. More than 150 members and their families gathered together to celebrate the triumphs and struggles. An infusion of young people in the organization has them looking forward to the next 20 years.

(Speaking of anniversaries, our member the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK is celebrating their 20 years as well. Check out their new website here.)

In the photo Martina Mejía of COSAGUAL harvests coffee - photo by Sean Hawkey.

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