Fairtrade Africa participates in the International Flower Trade Expo

Fairtrade Africa participated in International Flower trade Expo, the biggest fair of its kind in Africa. The event took place from 3rd – 5th June 2015 at Oshwal Centre in Nairobi Kenya.

Iftex

Hon Margaret Kenyatta, First lady of Kenya, making a tour to different exhibition booths during IFTEX

Her Excellency the First Lady of Kenya, Hon Margaret Kenyatta opened the fair, and in her speech, she applauded women in the floriculture industry, who form a vast majority of the workforce.

She went ahead and assured consumers of the highly acclaimed flowers from Kenya and how the workers continuously strive for responsible and safe production of cut flowers. “We also strive to protect, conserve the natural environment and promote the welfare of all farm staff for sustainability,” she concluded.

As she walked through the exhibition booths, she commended the beautiful blooms, which were a sight to behold. In particular, she was drawn to flowers from one of Fairtrade Africa’s newly certified producers, Batian Flowers. They had exhibited, some of the premium roses produced in their farm, whose varieties included, Mondial, Deep Purple, Red Naomi and Royal Porcelina.

Fairtrade Africa with the support of Fairtrade International also exhibited and visitors thronged the booth in all three days. Most visitors expressed interest in matters to do with certification and Fairtrade Sales. Others were keen to learn about Fairtrade while others expressed their heartfelt gratitude at the benefits they have enjoyed as a result of Fairtrade certification.

Ann Mugi, from Wildfire Flowers based in Naivasha Kenya, expressed her gratitude at the growth their Flower farm has experienced since they received Fairtrade certification. “Before Fairtrade, we used to sell 60% of our produce direct and 40% through the auction. Nowadays we sell 100% direct and 30% of our produce is sold as Fairtrade,” says Ann. “We have benefitted through various trainings facilitated by Premium and as workers we have benefitted from home improvement projects proposed and approved by the workers. Through Premium our households now have basic amenities and most recently we installed solar lanterns to light up our homes.”

Munyao sharing his story

Nicholas Munyao recounting the benefits he has enjoyed from Fairtrade since he became a worker with Oserian.

Nicholas Munyao a happy worker at Oserian Flowers Ltd, explains, “In 2013/2014, I did a diploma in Logistics and Management, sponsored by Fairtrade Premium. This consequently earned me a promotion which came in with a better package.  In my coffers I had some disposable income to support my two younger brothers’ pay their school fees for secondary school.”

I further got an opportunity to work for Stokeman Rozen Kenya ltd, a sister company to Oserian Ltd, which does propagation of rose plants and summer crops. “I am happy with my current job and in the near future I hope to advance my career in the logistics field,” adds Mr. Munyao.

During the fair, Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade International facilitated a round table on the living wage.  Fairtrade’s approach to living wage takes a holistic approach that will advocate for transparency around wage levels, use of living wage benchmarks, promotion of collective bargaining at sector and workplace level, removal of barriers to workers collectively bargaining and creating transparency around costs of production so that buyers understand what it costs for an employer to be socially sustainable and estimating  the effect of raising wages on the total costs of production as a basis for discussion.

The topic had been received with mixed reactions by the farm owners initially closed to the idea but with furthered explanation by Fairtrade Africa’s Flower Manager, they welcomed the proposition as an all-inclusive approach.

 

‘Made in Rwanda Fairly’

February 10th 2015 saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between C&H Garments, Rwanda Development Board and Fairtrade Africa.

C&H is a newly established Rwandan garment manufacturing company striving through Fairtrade Standards to pioneer the concept of “Made in Rwanda Fairly.” This will contribute to significant job opportunities especially for women who will form a majority of the workforce and generate much needed export earnings for Rwanda.

In collaboration with Fairtrade, C&H plans to establish a transparent sourcing plan. Ultimately sourcing Fairtrade cotton fabric made from certified cotton across Africa.

They plan to sell their “Made in Rwanda Fairly” cotton T – Shirts directly to top-end brands in USA and Europe. Fairtrade Africa made important introductions for C&H to Max Havelaar France who have begun exploring links with buyers in France.

During the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, James Mwai, Director of Programmes representing Fairtrade Africa, said. “Today marks a milestone in Fairtrade Africa support to the growth of an integrated cotton supply chain in Africa. By collaborating with a textile manufacturer, we are expanding the Fairtrade footprint into textile processing thus enabling us pilot the Textile Standard and position Fairtrade in this fast growing industry.”

Flower farmers to increase their market visibility through innovative online platform

Fairtrade Africa has partnered with an online flower platform to increase visibility of Fairtrade flowers through profiling them through online platforms such as FlorAccess ( www.floraccess.com).

“This is intended to help producer organizations increase Fairtrade sales,” says Caleb Lang’at, Fairtrade Africa’s Flower Manager.

The platform allows Fairtrade – certified flower organisations to request for login details, which enables them to upload their flower details and farm profile. This includes and is not limited to: length, variety, type, head size, CSR activities, and Fairtrade premium projects.

Over 60 Producer Organizations globally have been exposed to the system’s usability.  The pioneers, including three farms from East Africa, have begun processing their applications, enrolment and subscription.

Today over 90% of floriculture buyers use the internet as their prime source of information when looking for products thus confirming the viability of this support for Fairtrade Flowers.

Buyers will now be able to search for a combination of product name and the Fairtrade certification. The cooperation between Fairtrade and the online platforms shall create a unique selling point thus helping increase markets access and sales for Fairtrade Flower producer organizations.

 

Producers in Tunisia express interest in Certification

Saber Ben Mbarek, Fairtrade Africa’s Liaison Officer for Tunisia, participated in the 11th edition of the International Fair for Agricultural Investment and Technology “SIAT 2014.” The event was held in Tunis from 29 October to 1 November 2014.

The conference brought together, Government officials and stakeholders in the Tunisian agricultural sector. With the limited awareness of Fairtrade in the country, and very few certified producers, the fair provided a good opportunity for Saber to talk about Fairtrade.

He was able to reach out to the non-certified producer organisations who were exhibiting products ranging from olive oil, dates, and vegetables.

The producers expressed interest in learning more about the Fairtrade system and how they could benefit in finding markets. As a way forward, Saber is planning further engagement with the interested unions, and to have a networking session together with the exporters.

“I believe it will be a great opportunity, to bring together producers and exporters. They will learn more about Fairtrade, and eventually produce on Fairtrade terms,” he says.

Cocoa Network consultative committee meet in Ghana

The Cocoa Network Consultative Committee visited the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) on 26 November 2014. The aim of the visit was to learn about possible value addition projects from cocoa bi-products as well as new agronomic practices for improved cocoa yields.

The members of the consultative committee who include, Fairtrade cocoa producers, Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade Foundation (UK) initiated discussions on possible partnerships with the institute.

The partnership will see producers receive training on good agricultural practices and commercialisation of their cocoa bi-products for additional income.

Also present was a representative of the World Cocoa Foundation, Sona Ebai, who came to share information and discuss Cocoa Action. Cocoa Action is the cocoa industry’s framework for an aligned sustainability strategy.

The Executive Director of the Research Institute, Dr. Anim-Kwapong, stated that, “there has been low uptake of research findings from the institute by farmers. This has largely been contributed by low levels of organization among cocoa farmers and lack of resources to invest in the application of the findings.”

Now that the institute is open to collaborations, there should be an improvement of farmer utilization of research findings.

Cocoa producers receive training on Fairtrade Sourcing Program

It is one year since the launch of Fairtrade Sourcing Program (FSP) by the Fairtrade system. With big chocolate brands like Ferrero signing up for 20,000MT of Fairtrade cocoa in three years, cocoa farmers are out for a great start.

Cocoa producers from 14 Cooperatives across Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have been trained on improving Internal Control Systems, governance, financial management and GAP trainings.

“This workshop equipped me better in terms of organisational management,” commented Kwame Asa-Ofori; President, Suhum Cocoa Farmers ‘Cooperative Union, in Ghana. “We were empowered to do our own needs assessment and teach others to do same. The hands-on training method was ideal for adult learning.”

This producer support underpins the FSP Cocoa program. This comes at an opportune time with February 2015, seeing Mars Chocolate UK and Fairtrade Foundation extend their partnership to source Fairtrade certified cocoa for MARS® Bars in UK and Ireland.

Speaking about the commitment, Blas Maquivar, President, Mars Chocolate UK, said:
“I’m really proud that our iconic MARS® Bar brand is at the forefront of Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Programme. It’s a crucial next step in our global commitment to certify that 100 percent of our cocoa has been produced in a sustainable manner by 2020 and it means that all three of our top UK chocolate brands now source certified cocoa, supporting farmers to improve productivity and yields and ultimately leading to improved income and better quality of life for farmers, their families and their communities.

Zimbabwe producers resolve to establish a country network

Fairtrade Workers from Zimbabwe participated in a workshop in Simba lodge, Harare on the 10th and 11th November 2014.
The workshop provided opportunities for the workers from the different certified organisations to exchange ideas, and at the same time, update themselves with the labour practices in their country.

Simon Banda, Liaison Officer for Zimbabwe and Mandy Moussouris, the Fairtrade Project Manager at Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), facilitated the workshop. They both explained the existing labour laws in the country vis-a-vis the requirements in the Fairtrade Standards.

During the workshop, the needs and challenges of workers were identified and strategies on the way forward were mapped out. Some of the challenges identified included limited access to markets, by the farm owners, long working hours during peak periods and the very low wages.

With the impeding challenges and efforts to attempt to come up with solutions, the workers resolved to come up with a Country Network, to share learnings.

Tinashe Farai, a worker from Luxafor Roses commented, “I am happy to have gotten a better overview of how Fairtrade operates, especially on standards that affects us. I look forward to the formation of a Country Network here in Zimbabwe, so that we can be up to speed with activities of the system regarding workers’ rights.”

A total of 18 participants attended the workshop with Fairtrade producer representatives from Girdport, Luxaflor, WH FAEDA Flower, Binga farms.

Improving Mental Health Care through Fairtrade Premium support

On 27th January 2015, Rose Cooperative Credit Society contributed funds to Mauritius Mental Health Association for purchase of school materials and feeding program.

The Fairtrade sugar producing Cooperative based in Melrose village, at the central plateau of the island in Mauritius, contributed 500 Euros towards the program. Of the total, 278 Euros was a direct provision from Fairtrade Premium.

Speaking during the donation ceremony, Naddy Coowar, the Manager of the Association said: “We wish there was some other way that we could show sincere appreciation for what your organisation has done. Unfortunately all we can do is thank you for your generosity. We trust that we can rely on your continued support for the well-being of the Mauritius Mental Health Association.”

The donation resulted from a needs assessment done by the members of Rose Cooperative Credit Society. It occurred to them that there was need to support education of vulnerable children and youth in the community. After further research, they narrowed down to the Mental Institution, and determined the underlying needs were lack of food and reading materials.
With Fairtrade on the ground, organisations like Mauritius Mental Health Association, can continue to provide much needed health care and community support services in the areas that they are needed most.

Dining with a difference enables diversification of income

Women farmers from Kabng’etuny Coffee Cooperative Society in Kenya are a happy lot, and so is their surrounding community. As they say, Unity is Power and it is what has knit these women farmers to form Kabng’etuny Women in Coffee Association (KWCA) aimed at increasing their income streams.

With a vast majority of the members cultivating maize in addition to coffee farming, they have not been reaping bountifully as they had expected. Inadequate storage facilities and inability to add value to their maize are some of the challenges these farmers have been facing resulting to large post-harvest losses, low sales and the resultant frequent food insecurity.

In 2013, the women, through the then Fairtrade Africa’s Regional Coordinator for Eastern and Central Africa Network Ms. Marion Ng’ang’a; and Fairtrade Africa’s Fundraising & Partnerships Manager Ms. Wangeci Gitata, shared a proposal for the purchasing of a commercial maize mill with the Head of Fundraising at Fairtrade Foundation UK Frances Robathan.
Fairtrade Foundation UK responded by running a campaign dubbed “Dine with a Difference in the UK.”

A total of GBP10,000 was raised that has enabled the women farmers purchase a Commercial Maize Mill which is currently being established at a local township called Fort-Ternan, where they have purchased a quarter acre of land.

Apart from farming coffee as a business, the women will now be able to supplement the coffee proceeds earned once per year with income from maize milling. The surrounding communities will also be able to buy maize flour, a major staple for majority of the population in Kenya, at a subsidized cost compared to brands sold in local markets. Moreover, the communities will also be able to process other cereals and pulses often grown in the region including livestock feeds which are by-products of the milling process.

Child labour protection project receives a stamp of approval from the Ivorian Government

It Takes a Village to Protect a Child Project has received a stamp of approval from the government of Côte d’Ivoire. The project will run in partnership with the Office of the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire and the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Trafficking Exploitation and Child Labour local authorities.

The committee comprises of 12 Government Ministries including Ministries of Education, Women and Children, Work and civil service, amongst others. This will allow the team to fully implement the project on the ground with local organizations such as Schools, Vocational colleges and Cooperatives.

With funding of the project in place, initial activities including training of the management of the Fairtrade cooperatives is ongoing. Part of the training will include Fairtrade Child Labour Standards and Project Management. The cooperatives will receive capacity building into how they can utilise premiums better in fighting child labour and ensuring child protection within their communities.

Workshops for children and youth on child rights will be conducted using age appropriate tools: The workshop will be followed closely by selection of 58 youth leaders who will be members of Child Labour Committees.