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.
Fairtrade’s mission is to help farmers and workers get a better deal. More specifically, Fairtrade influences socio-economic conditions along the value chain of certified products to the benefit of farmers and workers. These conditions include wage levels in hired labour companies such as plantations and factories.
Wages are the main factor determining the livelihoods of workers and an indicator for Decent Work as promoted by the International Labour Organisation. A Living Wage is a human right under the International Bill of Rights. The duty to help workers materialize this right does not rest on employers in the Global South alone since the entire global value chain needs to play its part.
The distribution of value along the value chain is not spread equitably and that is the reason we set Fairtrade Minimum Prices, lobby Governments and policy makers such as the European Union to regulate fairer trade practices. We also stimulate demand by organising consumer campaigns to encourage buying of Fairtrade certified products. That is also the reason that Fairtrade has not included a requirement in its global Standard for Hired Labour for agricultural companies to pay a Living Wage within a certain time. Decent Work can become a reality in enterprises that are both socially as well as economically sustainable.
Fairtrade International’s Workers’ Rights Strategy, was approved by its Board in 2012 after extensive global consultations. Included therein is our promotion of a Living Wage for plantation workers. To this end, Fairtrade has also adopted a requirement in the revised Fairtrade Standards for Hired Labour for employers to bargain with workers towards wage improvements that exceed the rate of inflation. For the purpose of establishing an acceptable benchmark, Fairtrade has closely collaborated with other standard setters under the ISEAL network and will do so going forward.
As an example, Fairtrade has engaged in a wage project for East African flowers with HIVOS and the FFP certifier, supported by the Dutch Institute for Sustainable Trade (IDH). The project partners aim to facilitate wage related dialogue along the value chain of East African flowers. Flowers for example are a significant product within the Fairtrade system – both in terms of market demand and producer coverage. As of 2012, 61 flower producing plantations in eight countries were certified to produce Fairtrade flowers. Read more here on Fairtrade’s Approach to Living Wage