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Showing posts tagged “Fairtrade”

Imelda Rojo, the vice president of Danilo Gonzalez Cooperative in Nicaragua, depulps coffee. Her cooperative is part of the CECOCAFEN Cooperative, which is made up of 10 cooperatives and two cooperative unions with a total of 2,600 producers, more than 700 of whom are women. 
Many Fairtrade coffee farmers, including representatives of Imelda’s cooperative, will flock to Seattle soon for the world’s largest specialty coffee conference, the SCAA 26-28 April. Fairtrade International and our members, Fairtrade America, the CLAC Network, Fairtrade Canada, and Fairtrade Africa will attend as well.
Photo by Sean Hawkey

Imelda Rojo, the vice president of Danilo Gonzalez Cooperative in Nicaragua, depulps coffee. Her cooperative is part of the CECOCAFEN Cooperative, which is made up of 10 cooperatives and two cooperative unions with a total of 2,600 producers, more than 700 of whom are women.

Many Fairtrade coffee farmers, including representatives of Imelda’s cooperative, will flock to Seattle soon for the world’s largest specialty coffee conference, the SCAA 26-28 April. Fairtrade International and our members, Fairtrade America, the CLAC Network, Fairtrade Canada, and Fairtrade Africa will attend as well.

Photo by Sean Hawkey

fairtrademarkus:

Fairtrade empowers women to play leading roles in their communities. Irene Kijara, 35, has three children, is a teacher by profession and also manages her own tea farm near Fort Portal in Uganda, employing 15 people.
She is also a treasurer for a committee that decides how to spend Fairtrade Premiums for community development and she is teaching and inspiring other women. Irene says “I am here as a representative of the women farmers who elected me. Other women have seen what I do. They are starting to look after their farms and realize they too can be strong and independent of men. Working for the committee has helped me to do this.”
She also adds “the rules are rigid and clear so no-one can deceive me – because I am a woman and I am clever!’
Via Fairtrade Foundation

fairtrademarkus:

Fairtrade empowers women to play leading roles in their communities. Irene Kijara, 35, has three children, is a teacher by profession and also manages her own tea farm near Fort Portal in Uganda, employing 15 people.

She is also a treasurer for a committee that decides how to spend Fairtrade Premiums for community development and she is teaching and inspiring other women. Irene says “I am here as a representative of the women farmers who elected me. Other women have seen what I do. They are starting to look after their farms and realize they too can be strong and independent of men. Working for the committee has helped me to do this.”

She also adds “the rules are rigid and clear so no-one can deceive me – because I am a woman and I am clever!’

Via Fairtrade Foundation

Building a School out of Bananas and Cooperation

Carla Veldhuyzen, Fairtrade’s Regional Manager for the Andean Region, attended the opening of a school paid for in part by Fairtrade Premium funds from a local foundation created by Fairtrade banana farmers.

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Ten year old Soffy Carolina Vidal has seen a lot of change in her short school career in the Colombian village of El Tigre. She began learning in a family’s backyard before their impromptu school was moved to an old pig shed. From there they were moved to the shade of a mango tree before workers at the Fairtrade farm, Miramar, discovered the conditions and did something about it.

On the first day of classes after school holidays this past January, FUNTRAJUSTO, a Fairtrade workers’ foundation made up of 15 certified farms, inaugurated its first joint project, uniting workers to build a primary school for the 35 students that had been receiving classes in a pig shed.

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The original pig shed where the students of El Tigre studied

Since 2011, Fairtrade Liaison Officer Alfredo Zabarain has been working with the Premium Committees that make up FUNTRAJUSTO to slowly change their mindset moving them from using the Premium for individual benefit to look around and see how they can help the surrounding communities.

FUNTRAJUSTO, was created in 2012. By putting together 5 percent of their annual Fairtrade Premium budget, they were able to negotiate with the local municipality and jointly address one of the heartfelt needs within the community: a school for the kids in El Tigre.

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Students study the school plans as construction begins

Soffy, who wrote about the journey in her diary,  cannot withhold her tears during the opening ceremony of the school, too late for her to enjoy, as she is moving on to secondary school this year, but happy for her companions who now have a proper school to study and play in.  

While the teacher is organizing his classroom, the kids try out the playground and Tim Aldred, a visitor from the Fairtrade Foundation, is inflating a huge banana, the Premium Committee presidents contemplate the result of many month of hard work, frustration and persuading each other to continue, and are genuinely proud of what they have accomplished.

They must be thinking “What’s next?”

Fortin Bley is a cocoa farmer, President of the Fairtrade Africa Cocoa Network, and Secretary General of CANN, his cooperative in the Ivory Coast. He visited Fairtrade during the launch of our new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, a new effort to drive more Fairtrade sales for farmers in cocoa, cotton and sugar.  At launch, Fairtrade cocoa sales are already up 14%.
Read how the new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs will help Fairtrade farmers sell more cocoa, sugar and cotton on Fairtrade terms.

Fortin Bley is a cocoa farmer, President of the Fairtrade Africa Cocoa Network, and Secretary General of CANN, his cooperative in the Ivory Coast. He visited Fairtrade during the launch of our new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, a new effort to drive more Fairtrade sales for farmers in cocoa, cotton and sugar.  At launch, Fairtrade cocoa sales are already up 14%.

Read how the new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs will help Fairtrade farmers sell more cocoa, sugar and cotton on Fairtrade terms.

A worker from a Sri Lankan tea plantation takes part in Fairtrade’s Hired Labour Consultation.

June 11, Hatton, Sri Lanka
By Elisabeth Bystrom, Project Manager at Fairtrade International

What is a stronger symbol of Sri Lanka than tea? I have long associated Sri Lanka with delicious Ceylon growing on endless rolling, mist-covered hills. A romantic picture I admit and one that I was fortunate enough to see in person last year.

The picture gets better. Not only did I get to visit the country, but I was there to meet the people and talk with workers on tea plantations about their needs, their perceptions of progress, and how we could improve the Fairtrade Standard to make it better suited to their daily reality.

This was my first test taking the standard review ‘live’ to meet with workers and hear their views in an open setting and one of our first times engaging workers on such a scale with new materials and methodology. My partners included Sumedha Karunatillake and Felix Wijesinghe, two experienced Fairtrade field staff, as well as the NAPP programme manager Mariam Thomas.

On first impression, Sri Lanka was, well, WET!

From the time I arrived until the day I left, the rain never seemed to stop. Roads were like rivers, power lines were down, and I wondered how we would manage without electricity. But there is little need for electricity when people gather to talk and share views. Tea estate workers from all over the teardrop-shaped island arrived unfazed. There was no need for overhead projectors and power point presentations, everyone was there to be active and contribute.

We had an agenda to guide us through the day, but the beautiful thing about a participatory workshop is that no matter how you plan, conversations take their own course. Talk mainly circled around who should receive Fairtrade Premium; whether it should it be distributed to all workers or remain dedicated for community-based projects.

There seemed to be no shortage of opinions, and no hesitation to voice them, whether from a man or a woman, a tea plucker, a factory worker or a field supervisor. I was pleased to watch heated debates in small groups where workers argued for and against cash distribution of the Fairtrade Premium.  Arguments were always well articulated, with examples of why or why not cash was a good idea. The overall feeling was that though community projects benefited the workers collectively, many felt the option to offer individual loans would also be a useful inclusion in the Standard.

The day sped by and before we knew it the sun had gone down. The rain made travel difficult, and several participants had to leave while the roads were still passable. This meant hurrying through the last part of the day. One of the most profound impressions that sticks with me was not so much about the workshop content, but the comments from participants who were happy to have the chance to meet with workers from neighboring plantations. They were grateful to have the opportunity to gather and share experiences and talk about their own lives, in particular what they have accomplished with the Fairtrade Premium and their plans for future projects.

While driving back down to Colombo through the curvy rolling hills covered in tea, the sun finally did come out. I was moved – not only by the beauty of the country – but by the openness of the people who did not hesitate to make me feel welcome and were more than willing to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams with me.

Elisabeth Bystrom is a Project Manager in Fairtrade International’s Standards Unit. She led the project of revising the Fairtrade Hired Labour Standard, a major undertaking involving consultations with over 400 workers and 18 workshops in 14 countries. The result is a new Standard that honours the day-to-day reality confronted by workers around the world. Read more about the final Hired Labour Standard here.

My hero has fallen to an eternal sleep. He was a father of a nation, a global icon. Madiba’s ideals and actions for a fair and just society which he was prepared to die for, has personally affected me and opened so many closed doors.

I can truly say Nelson Mandela has allowed me to travel the continents of the world, and now my quest is to continue his legacy through a Fairtrade business to touch the lives of as many other desperate people in search of that better life.

Vernon HennVernon Henn is the Managing Director of Thandi Wines, a Fairtrade winery in South Africa. Thandi is owned by 250 farm-worker families who hold 55% shares in the company.

Black gold then; black gold now

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This November, we mark 25 years since Fairtrade labelling was first launched when Mexican coffee farmers teamed up with the Max Havelaar Foundation, a Dutch NGO. In the Netherlands, Max Havelaar is a byword for standing up against trade injustice. The classic book, Max Havelaar by Multatuli, exposed the desperate conditions on the coffee farms in Indonesia, then ruled by the Dutch.

To mark the past 25 years, I visited KCU, a cooperative of coffee farmers in Tanzania who were the first group to be certified in Africa in 1990. Today they have a membership of 60,000 farmers across the region. Coffee is central to the lives of KCU’s smallholder members.

“When the coffee season is on, you can feel it. When people are selling coffee, you can see the money circulating in the town – people are buying fish and meat,” said John Kanjagaile, KCU’s charismatic export manager. “But when the season is off, everyone is quiet. The town is dead and moneyless.”

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The smallholders of KCU first came together in 1950; but in the late 1980s the International Coffee Agreement collapsed, leaving the cooperative on shaky ground and many producers in shambles. At first, the cooperative did not think they could come through the crisis or export overseas, but with support and pre-finance from Fairtrade they sent their first container, marking the start of a dramatic recovery.

“From that moment we became players in negotiating on the best possible price. We became experts in selling coffee – to Fairtrade and to the conventional market,” Kanjagaile said. “You cannot attach a monetary value to what we learn in Fairtrade on transparency and the environment.”

And KCU has stayed at the forefront.

Too often people assume smallholder farmers will be conservative, slow to change. Think again. KCU is now the first organic certified Robusta coffee exporter from Tanzania. They have used Fairtrade Premium funds to push the cooperative and the community forward, including an electrification project, building wooden bridges, four schools, and a ward at the dispensary.  

And they have always invested back in the cooperative and its members – from improving quality and buying hulling machines, to becoming major shareholders in Tanica, the only spray-dried instant coffee factory in East and Central Africa.

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They also own a charming 16-room hotel on the shores of Lake Victoria, a swanky commercial centre renting out office and shop space, and a bank. These properties stand as security, enabling them to qualify for loans to purchase the farmers’ coffee at harvest time and allowing them to overcome one of a cooperative’s biggest hurdles: access to credit. Diversification of income also helps reduce the reliance on coffee – a volatile commodity whose price dropped over 60 percent this year from 2011 highs (Read more about the issues in coffee).

While visiting KCU, we were accompanied by a small group of gold miners from Tanzania and Uganda who are interested in joining the Fairtrade system (read more about my visit with the miners here). It was a poignant moment: the first Fairtrade group in Africa meeting a group still at the very beginning, as we explore how Fairtrade could work for these gold miners. The two groups eagerly exchanged views: how they built their cooperative, searched for market, and more.

“I feel so happy that we have small-scale miners here. Coffee used to be called black gold – that is our gold. It is on top of the earth, yours is under the earth!”  said Vedastus Ngaiza, the CEO of KCU, with a smile.

And before the end of the day, the topic turned to the launch of the FAIRTRADE Mark in East Africa, with Fairtrade coffee, tea and chocolate already on store shelves in Kenya. The KCU team excitedly discussed how Tanica could become Africa’s first instant coffee carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark, available in all good Tanzanian stores.

And I thought to myself, now this is all quite a birthday present to celebrate 25 years of Max Havelaar; a gift from the ever innovative smallholder farmers of Africa .image

The photos above were taken by Fairtrade staff during a field visit to the Philippines in September. The 46 members of the Patag Farmers Integrated Social Forestry Association were on track to become Fairtrade certified for their lettuce, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. That was until the typhoon Haiyan hit.

According to Stephan Kunz, who works for the AFOS Foundation and has also been supporting Fairtrade efforts there, the devastation in the country is immeasurable. Typhoon winds tracked over 300 km/hour and even permanent homes were razed to the ground.

The members of the Patag Farmers group were among the thousands of people affected. The storm wiped out their entire harvest. Many of them lost homes. Some even lost family members. But they plan to continue.

“The farmers there will not give up their livelihood so easily. They are strong, and although due to the storm they have almost nothing to share with their neighbors, they are doing their best to provide for those in need,” said Hagung Hendrawan a Regional Coordinator for Fairtrade International based in the field. “Families are working hand in hand to build temporary shelters, collect food, and cook. Any support we can offer will foster the recovery process.”

The AFOS Foundation is collecting funds to help with the recovery efforts. Please contact stephan.h.kunz@gmail.com for more details.

You can also donate to general relief efforts through Oxfam here.

There are three other Fairtrade small producer organizations in the Philippines. Most of their members were only minorly affected by the storm. The groups are now collecting emergency aid to help in the relief efforts.

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