Established in 2005, Fairtrade Africa is the independent non-profit umbrella organisation representing all Fairtrade certified producers in Africa. Fairtrade Africa is owned by its members, who are African producer organisations certified against international Fairtrade standards producing traditional export commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, bananas, mango and non-traditional commodities including shea butter and rooibos tea. Currently, the organisation represents over 932,000 producers across 32 countries in Africa.
Fairtrade Africa is a membership-based organisation. The General Assembly (GA) held every two years is the highest decision making body. All members have the right to participate and vote for the election of the Fairtrade Africa Board through their regional representatives at the GA.
We work through primary structures such as product groups, country partnerships and regional networks which enable members to have a strong voice in the governance and management of the organisation. We operate four regional networks: Eastern and Central Africa Network (FTA-ECAN) based in Nairobi, Kenya; West Africa Network (FTA-WAN) based in Accra, Ghana and Southern Africa Network (FTA-SAN) based in Cape Town, South Africa. We also have a new network in Middle East and North Africa region whose regional office is soon to be established. The Fairtrade Africa secretariat is located in Nairobi, Kenya.. Fairtrade Africa has 50% ownership of the Fairtrade system.
Who are the producers?
Producers are members of Fairtrade Africa currently comprising over 410 Fairtrade certified producer organisations. All producers are certified against international Fairtrade standards producing traditional export commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, cut flowers, bananas, pineapples, mango and non-traditional commodities including shea butter, rooibos tea, vegetables and fresh and dry fruits.
Fairtrade Africa is made up of both small producer organisations (SPOs) and Hired Labour (HL). In HL set-ups, the focus is on supporting companies to provide better working conditions for their workers.
What Fairtrade does
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.
It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.
And it’s your opportunity to connect with the people who grow the produce that we all depend on.
What does the FAIRTRADE Mark mean?
When you buy products with the FAIRTRADE Mark, you support farmers and workers as they work to improve their lives and their communities.
The Mark means that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.
Fairtrade works to benefit small-scale farmers and workers, who are amongst the most marginalised groups globally, through trade rather than aid to enable them to maintain their livelihoods and reach their potential.
For certain products, such as coffee, cocoa, cotton and rice, Fairtrade only certifies small-scale farmer organisations. Working through democratic organisations of small-scale farmers, Fairtrade offers rural families the stability of income which enables them to plan for the future.
Farmer and worker organisations own 50% of the global Fairtrade system
For some products such as bananas, tea and flowers, Fairtrade also certifies plantations – companies that employ large numbers of workers on estates. Our Standards for such large-scale production units differ and protect workers’ basic rights; from keeping them safe and healthy, allowing them freedom of association and collective bargaining, to preventing discrimination and ensuring no bonded or illegal child labour.
These standards also require employers to pay wages that progress towards living wage benchmarks, ensuring decent working conditions and strong worker rights is central to Fairtrade’s work.
The farmers and workers themselves decide how the Fairtrade Premium should be invested. The premium is the additional sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade minimum price that farmers and workers receive which can be invested in social, environmental and economic developmental projects to improve their businesses and their communities. In real terms, it means investment in schools, transport, health care, sanitation, an improved environment and better business equipment and practices.
What makes Fairtrade different?
Fairtrade supports farmers and workers in gaining more from trade and through this they are empowered to control their lives. It is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those that consume it.
Fairtrade is 50% owned by farmers and workers
Fairtrade works with a range of stakeholders but our global system is 50% owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations.
With an equal voice, producers have a say in decision-making within our General Assembly and on Fairtrade International’s Board of Directors. Through the Board and its committees, they are involved in decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices, premiums and standards.
Fairtrade Minimum price
For most Fairtrade goods there is a Fairtrade minimum price which is set to cover the cost of sustainable production for that product in that region. If the market price for that product is higher that our minimum price, then farmers and workers should receive the market price.
Payment of the minimum price is regularly audited and checked by FLO-Cert. This acts as a vital safety net for farmers and workers and protects them from fluctuations in the market prices of the products they grow for a living. This protection ensures they can have an assured and stable income and plan for their future. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that offers such a unique minimum price protection for farmers.
Over and above the Fairtrade price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money. which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.
Farmers and workers themselves determine what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their business or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community.