Best Practices

In this section, Fairtrade certified producers can share experiences and best practices. Every quarter, producers tell about their practical solutions to a certain challenge. Click here for previous business, environmental, social, and
health case studies.

CASESTUDY 1 – TEA PACKED AT THE SOURCE

Profile:
Iriaini Tea Factory
Product focus: Tea
Location: Othaya, Kenya
Type: Small producer – 6.000 farmers
Fairtrade certificate since: 2006
Contact: George Mwangi – gmwangi@gmail.com; info@iriaini.ktdateas.com

Challenge:
Less than 5% of Iriaini Tea Factory’s sales are under Fairtrade terms. On average its small-scale farmers, who are co-owners of the factory, own 0.5 acres of land and earn 150 KS (less than 2USD) per day. The company decided to set up different projects to improve the livelihoods of its farmers. One was to add value at the source – instead of exporting loose tea the company is now packing the tea in the factory.

Solution:
Iriaini found the perfect partner in UK retailer Marks & Spencer. During a visit to the tea farm to observe the impact of Fairtrade on farmers, the retailer was impressed with the organisation’s income diversification project, funded by the Fairtrade premium. M&S proposed to help Iriaini to become the first Kenyan tea factory that packed at the source. DFID, the UK development agency, agreed to fund the project.

Marks & Spencer provided technical and commercial support from its team of experts to ensure the Fairtrade farmers developed the skills needed to understand how to pack tea. A teabag packing line has now been established at Iriaini and M&S has been working with the factory to ensure the tea packing room was brought up to international standards.

Cost:
DFID financially supported the project and with this grant M&S leased a packaging machine for Iriaini in 2011. Last year, Iriaini decided to buy the machine at a reduced price. In addition it also invested in a machine for heat sealing. The total investment for Iriaini came to 1.5 million KS (or USD 17,000).

Result:

Although officially kicked off in November 2011, Iriaini has only packed 2,000 kilo of tea so far. According to M&S sales have been low. However, the project has truly empowered the workers at Iriaini. Not only have they gained new technical, product development and commercial skills, the organisation designed its own package and is preparing for a launch on the Kenyan market. Currently Iriaini’s packed tea is going through the Fairtrade license process so that it will carry the FAIRTRADE mark on its boxes. Not only do the Iriaini farmers want to conquer the Eastern African market. If all goes well, they plan to expand to West Africa so that Africans no longer need to rely on Western tea supply.

CASE STUDY 2: HEAVY TEA DRINKERS OPEN UP TO COFFEE

Profile:
Mzuzu Coffee Planters Co-operative Union
Product focus: Coffee
Location: Mzuzu, Malawi

Type: Small producer – 2652 farmers
Fairtrade certificate since: 2009
Contact: Lovemore Pemba –
lovepemba@mzuzucoffee.org

Challenge

To diversify their income Mzuzu decided to introduce their own coffee brand to the Malawi market. The increased revenues would help meet operational costs. Malawians are predominantly tea drinkers so Mzuzu was aware they were embarking on a risky venture. But the organisation also spotted potential opportunities. The Malawian market was flooded with a variety of teas and instant coffee, but pure coffee was totally lacking. If filtered coffee was available, the local population could hardly afford it.

Solution

Mzuzu built a processing plant comprising of two roasters and two grinding mills. They also bought electrical sealing machines to seal the packets ready for the market. They name their brand Mzuzu Specialty Coffee and they have launched two types of coffee: grounded and packed beans. The grounded coffees are being packed in four sizes: 1kg, 500g, 250g and 80g – standing out in their golden packs. Consumers can buy the roasted beans in silver packs of 500g and 250g. With all their coffee beans Fairtrade certified, they are currently undergoing the artwork processes to have the FAIRTRADE Mark on their brand and sell officially under Fairtrade terms.

Costs

The cooperative used some of its own funds to start up the process. In addition the European Economic Commission and the European Union also contributed to the project. For more information on costs, please contact Lovemore Pemba- lovepemba@mzuzucoffee.org.

Results

Country-wide sales are still small but increasing. The mindset of consumers that coffee is for the rich is slowly fading. As a next step Mzuzu plans to export its coffee to other Southern African countries. It’s the dream of producers to later supply African and even other international markets. Plans are already underway to automate the production chain and introduce other brands.

CASE STUDY 3: BULK TO FINISHED PRODUCTS

Profile:

Akoma Cooperative Multipurpose Society
Product focus: Shea butter
Location: Bolgatanga – Ghana
Type: Small producer – 350 farmers
Fairtrade certificate since: 2009
Contact: Samuel Nii Tettey –yettetsam@yahoo.com,
ghana@akomacooperative.com

Challenges

For a long time Akoma farmers had been grinding their nuts and packing their shea butter in bulk, as the market demanded. However, recently customers’ preference has been changing, opting for shea butter that had been packaged and labeled as a finished product instead. To Akoma, this changing trend meant the farmers needed to incorporate value addition to their product.

Solution

With Fairtrade premium funds and extra support from Akoma International (UK), they purchased packaging machinery. To further differentiate their brand, they also decided to license their shea butter as Fairtrade. They are now selling to Akoma International (UK), who distributes their products to clients across Europe, and to Wakachiai projects in Japan.

Cost

Akoma spent approximately USD30, 890 in setting up the whole packaging process.

Results

As the packaging and labeling was completed recently, it is too early to see the impact yet. Currently the farmers are still optimizing the process, but they expect the market demand will continue to rise.

NEXT CHALLENGE:

The next best practice session will  address child and maternal care. Please contact us if you have a story to share.

Contact Janet at j.sudi@fairtradeafrica.net or +254 020 272 1930.