Growing our cocoa, raising our voices: A film made by women cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire
´So the cocoa has been sold, but it´s not me who sold it. I didn´t earn anything for it´ explains Léocadie Voho. ´We do all the work, but it´s the men who sell the cocoa. We have never sold cocoa. We, the women, work but we don´t earn anything.´
Léocadie Voho is one of the 25 women cocoa farmers who have documented and dramatized their experiences, challenges and aspirations as woman in cocoa growing communities in Côte d´Ivoire in the film ´growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices.´ On the International Day of Rural Women, Fairtrade is delighted to present this new film highlighting the experiences of these women farmers.
As Fairtrade develops its programme work in gender, we know that we need to understand more about the lives and experiences of the women who work in Fairtrade supply chains. ‘Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices’ was made by women living near Daloa, in western Côte d’Ivoire. The 25 women are all linked to two Cooperative societies, ECOOJAD and CAPEDIG which form part of the Fairtrade certified ECOOKIM cooperative union. Some of the women were cooperative members in their own right, while others are married to cooperative members. ECOOKIM’s vision to help their members increase their share of the cocoa value chain led them to participate in this initiative to strengthen the position of their female members.
Participatory video specialists from KIT, a research institute in the Netherlands, trained the women in how to use the cameras and microphones. The women practised interviewing each other and speaking on camera. They discussed and debated which topics and issues to showcase in the film, and developed the storyboards together. After four intensive days of training, the women returned to their villages to shoot their films on location.
The final film, a mixture of theatre and documentary, captures the challenges faced by women who work hard to produce cocoa, but see little of the direct benefit from sales. The women express their practical needs for higher prices and for better access to pesticides and transport for their crop. They talk about their hopes to become a more active part of their cooperatives, and interview the cooperative president and director to raise their concerns with them.
Beyond cocoa production, the women speak passionately about the challenges for women to get a good education, the need for better employment possibilities for women, and their vision for a more equal society. As Awa Ouedraogo explains in the film ´What I want is for women to be working in an office…because women and men, we all have the same potential. There is no job today that a man can do that a woman cannot do.´
The women edited their films together and premiered them to representatives from their cooperatives and from Fairtrade. At the end of the project they spoke about what they had learned, and the difference that being part of the project had made for them. In particular, the women appreciated the opportunity to learn new skills and work with technology. They really enjoyed the rare chance to meet and exchange ideas with women from other villages. And they were able to use the project as a platform to explore their experiences of cocoa production and the cocoa cooperatives – and to present their views and concerns to the managers of those cooperatives.
Aïssata Rado explains what being part of the project has meant for her: ‘I’ve learned such a lot: how to use a camera and a microphone, how to interview people and how to film.’ She spoke about how the women bonded through the project: ‘We came from different places, we didn’t know each other. Now we eat, sleep, take bath together, and laugh together.’ And she talked about what she would do differently after the project: ‘The workshop has given me greater strength. I am going to contribute, make more of an effort to be part of the cooperative. That will help my cocoa production to be more successful.’
The true value of the film, as Tsitsi Choruma, Senior advisor for Gender at Fairtrade International explains is that “giving women a voice, enables confidence building and strengthens their self-esteem and their ability to negotiate their rightful space in communities and Producer Organisations. And as Ahou Héléne N´guessan, one of the cocoa farmers involved say´ Before, women here were in the dark. Our film brings us into the light.”
The final film will be used as a tool for training and to spark discussion and debate on gender issues with other cooperatives across Africa and beyond. Nyagoy Nyong´o, Executive Director of Fairtrade Africa explained ´The film has provided a valuable insight into the realities women cocoa farmers face on a day to day basis in Côte d´Ivoire. We plan to use the film to facilitate discussions on gender issues with Cocoa cooperatives through our Cocoa network and also to identify other ways it can be shared with cooperatives across Africa to generate learning.´
Fairtrade is very grateful to all the women who participated, and to ECOOKIM and its member cooperatives ECOJAD and CAPEDIG for their support to make the project happen. This project was commissioned by Fairtrade Africa, Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Foundation as part of a bigger field study of Fairtrade´s impact in Cocoa growing in West Africa which is due to be published later in the year.
The films are available in short and long versions with English and French subtitles:
ECOOKIM is a cocoa cooperative in the Ivory Coast, founded in 2004 and Fairtrade certified since 2010. ECOOKIM’s members grow cocoa on a total of 22,800 hectares and are spread across four regions of the Côte d’Ivoire. Last year ECOOKIM used Fairtrade Premium funds towards increasing the quality of their members’ cocoa and the productivity of their cocoa farms, leading to 90 per cent of ECOOKIM’s farmers being able to deliver cocoa at the quality required by the international market and able to be sold on Fairtrade terms. Visit ECOOKIM’s website to find out how you can source Fairtrade certified cocoa and coffee http://www.ecookim.com/?lang=en
Mars and Fairtrade extend partnership to certify cocoa for MARS® Bars
The iconic chocolate brand partners with Fairtrade to boost cocoa sustainability and further support farmers
Mars Chocolate UK and Fairtrade Foundation extend partnership to source Fairtrade certified cocoa for MARS® Bars in UK and Ireland
- Mars is the first UK company to commit to Fairtrade’s new Cocoa Sourcing Programme, building on Mars’ ongoing commitment to certify its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020
- Mars is initiating an innovative new approach with Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire enabling farmers to boost sustainable production and cocoa yields and improve local livelihoods
- Building on the Fairtrade certification of MALTESERS® in 2012, this takes total Fairtrade premiums paid by Mars globally to cocoa cooperatives in West Africa to over US$2m per year by 2016
Mars Chocolate UK and The Fairtrade Foundation announced that they are extending their global cocoa partnership with a commitment to source Fairtrade certified cocoa for all MARS® Bars in the UK and Ireland by autumn 2015.
Mars is the first UK company to announce a commitment under the new Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, which specifically aims to deliver more opportunities for cocoa farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmer livelihoods.
In 2009, Mars was the first global chocolate company to commit to certify its entire cocoa supply as being produced in a sustainable manner by 2020. In the UK, this new commitment from the MARS® Bar brand builds on the success of Mars’ partnership with Fairtrade on MALTESERS®, announced in 2011 and the Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing programme model which was launched in partnership with Mars Chocolate Germany and the TWIX® brand in 2014. It will take the total premiums paid by Mars globally to Fairtrade cocoa cooperatives in West Africa to over US$2m per year by 2016.
Mars is guided by its principle of Mutuality, creating ‘mutual benefits’ for partners throughout the supply chain and this extended partnership between Mars and Fairtrade is rooted in a shared belief in putting farmers first. It is an innovative new approach working hand-in-hand with cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire, through which farmers themselves will be empowered both financially and with expert support. It will see Fairtrade cooperatives investing certification premiums in a full productivity package, including training, fertilisers and improved high yielding and disease resistant crops, enabling Fairtrade farmers to dramatically increase their yields and incomes helping to enhance local livelihoods. An initial project with one of the cooperative groups supplying the cocoa for MARS® Bars will begin in 2015 and Mars and Fairtrade International have made a joint pledge to extend the programme to more West African cocoa cooperatives covering Mars’ existing Fairtrade cocoa volumes over the coming years.
MARS® Bars that source Fairtrade certified cocoa will appear in stores from October 2015 in the 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.
“This partnership brings us one step closer to sustainable, ethically sourced cocoa becoming the norm in the chocolate industry.”
Mike Gidney, Chief Executive of The Fairtrade Foundation, said:
“What a great kick off for Fairtrade Fortnight 2015! We’re entering a new era in Fairtrade’s work with cocoa farmers in West Africa, increasingly connecting forward-looking businesses like Mars more directly to entrepreneurial cocoa cooperatives who themselves want to be at the forefront of product quality, productivity and rural community improvement. Cocoa farmers constantly tell us they’re anxious to sell more of their crops on Fairtrade terms, and we know how it can start to change their lives when they receive fairer rewards for their efforts. That’s why we launched the Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, and to have Mars leading the way is fantastic news, both here in the UK and on the ground with cocoa cooperatives in Cote d’Ivoire.”
****- ENDS -****
Roses are a symbol of love, especially for Valentine’s Day. Approximately every third Rose sold in Europe today, comes from Kenya. Despite there being no trace of romance over there, the Rose industry not only brings foreign currency into the country and jobs, but also problems.
With hood and gloves
Helen, a worker with Red – Lands Roses is sorting the roses. In front of her on the table there are dozens of them. All are fresh from the greenhouse next door. Valentine’s Day is a high season for this flower farm, and she has to work with speed.
A short glance at the flower is in order. You remove unnecessary sheaths, cut the stem, bundle together the roses in a bouquet and put them immediately into a bucket. Each handle is fully deep seated in the bucket. Helen has been on the job for over ten years now. “When I started, we did not even have decent protective clothing,” she says. “Sometimes there were gloves, but it always took us a long time to handle the roses. But now everything is OK.”
With a hood and green gloves, Helen has her hair covered and adorns an apron with Red- Lands Roses, logo. “This is the case for Fairtrade Certified flower farms,” says Nyagoy Nyongo the Head of Fairtrade Africa. “If you compare with other non-Fairtrade farms, then you will find workers in the greenhouses spraying pesticides without protective clothing. In some cases workers may not even be organized and do not know their rights.”
Samuel from the centre of the Kenyan floriculture production based in Naivasha, says: “The flower farms used to be the worst employers. But when the workers in the flower farms organized themselves in unions and negotiated contracts, over the last ten years, the conditions have improved. ”
A female employee in a flower farm. Most of them earn less than 100 euros.
A little more than 10,000 KES is what the workers earn each month. This is less than 100 Euros which is minimal to feed one’s family comfortably. Things are different on Fairtrade Farms. The Managing Director for Red – Lands, Isabelle Speidel says: “I think the workers benefit the most. If we make good business, there is a premium. And that’s a lot of money; it then flows in projects beneficial to the whole community.”
Rekindling Interest in African Vegetables with Fairtrade
Vegetables consumed in Eastern Africa include familiar names – carrots, kale and cabbage – but these are historically not part of the continent’s diet. Western favorites have at times overshadowed the region’s gloriously-named indigenous vegetables, including cowpea leaves, spider plant and slenderleaf.
These greens are part of Africa’s heritage and are thought to pack a potent punch, with medicinal, immune-boosting and nutritional properties. They are better suited to growing in the local soil, have little need for fertilisers or pesticides, and are more resilient to the ravages of climate change.
The traditional, leafy vegetables have, in the past, been looked down on; sometimes considered old-fashioned and as ‘poor man’s food’. Now the plants, with their high levels of roughage, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese and Vitamin A, are seen as a way of building food security, as well as a chance to celebrate a rich cultural tradition.
For these reasons, there has been a resurgence in the vegetables’ popularity. A recent report from Fairtrade Africa and Christian Aid highlighted the potential demand for Fairtrade certified traditional vegetables in the Kenyan market.
Fairtrade International recently established the first Fairtrade prices for indigenous African vegetables and it’s hoped this will be an opportunity to protect and rekindle interest in these plants, further boosting their reputation and consumption, first in Kenya, and then other countries in the region.
The announcement forms part of Fairtrade International’s strategy to increase the trade in Fairtrade goods within the emerging markets of Africa, Latin America and Asia; all thought to have great potential for sales. The FAIRTRADE Mark can be increasingly found on produce that is grown and consumed within these regions, as well as on produce which is exported to Europe, North America and regions.
These new prices will help open up the Kenyan market for Fairtrade farmers there – a model the Fairtrade movement hopes to see with more regularity as India, South Africa and other countries increase their sales. There are also nascent Fairtrade movements in Brazil, Argentina, India and The Philippines.
Those who grow traditional vegetables tend to be poor and disadvantaged women, often farming less than half a hectare, in vulnerable communities, and this price mechanism will benefit them, increasing their income and their role within their farming groups.
There is growing demand in Nairobi from health-conscious consumers for specialized restaurants that serve healthy, ethnic foods. African leafy vegetables are perfect ingredients for this market. AMAICA< http://www.amaica.co.ke/>, a small but significant restaurant chain, buys its cowpea leaves, spider plant and slenderleaf from groups of women growers and is interested in working with Fairtrade to help certify these groups. Certification will empower the women and ensure a fair price for their work. AMAICA will also be certified as a trader and become the first in the region to serve Fairtrade certified meals.
“AMAICA is pleased to be at the forefront of promoting these vegetables which are so nutritious and so much at the heart of African tradition,” explains Pamela Muyeshi. “We are delighted to be working with Fairtrade in securing a guaranteed fair price for the women who grow them.”
AMAICA distributes the vegetables to its eateries in Nairobi, including its new outlet at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where they are used in various dishes. The restaurant chain has built a reputation as a location for authentic, traditional meals and other branches will soon be opened outside the capital. Other restaurant chains are expected to follow AMAICA’s lead and serve the Fairtrade greens. The AMAICA group, together with six other restaurants, are estimated to use more than 30,000kg of traditional vegetables every month.
Frank Olok of Fairtrade Africa, the Fairtrade producer network for Africa and the Middle East, says the new vegetable prices are significant for Fairtrade sales within Kenya.
“This will go a long way to increase and diversify market opportunities for Fairtrade Africa members, by promoting south-to-south markets,” he says. “We expect more producers to start selling their traditional African vegetables on Fairtrade terms.”
The first National Fairtrade Organisation in a producer country was set up in South Africa five years ago. South Africa is currently the fastest growing Fairtrade market. Fairtrade Marketing Organisation of East Africa (FMOEA) is the second organization to launch on the continent. It opened its doors in May 2013 and currently promotes Fairtrade products in Kenya. It will be targeting other countries in eastern Africa in the future.
Fairtrade is thought to be effective in parts of the world where the inequalities within a society are obvious for local consumers to see. It can also be a real boost to farmers to see their produce for sale locally, bearing the FAIRTRADE Mark.
“Fairtrade certified producers in Africa are keen to expand these markets for Fairtrade products,” adds Frank. “We enthusiastically welcome south-to-south trade.”
HAPPY HOLIDAYS SPREAD THE CHEER!
As the year comes to an end, we at Fairtrade Africa, wish you blessings of warm and good cheer this holiday season. It is also that time of the year where we pass our utmost gratitude for the support you have accorded us so far.
This year, 2014, has been a special year for us; we wish to thank our donors, project partners, members, Fairtrade campaigners and supporters worldwide for supporting us live our mission. We started out by laying out our strategic objectives, in February, which will guide us through to the end of 2015. Find more details on our strategic focus here.
In May, we set up a Ways of Working workshop, dubbed ‘the WoW workshop’, whose goal was to achieve a better understanding of the architecture of our work within the Fairtrade system and accompanying interrelationships. We hosted the Programmatic Approach Reference Group in October. We see a promising future for Fairtrade, as a system, as we strive to achieve a more coherent and strategically aligned program delivery.
This was also the year of producer services integration from Fairtrade International to Fairtrade Africa. We continue to be committed to this, despite the challenges, and are fully aware that the success of Fairtrade in Africa depends on successful integration.
Amidst the scare of Ebola, we have sensitized our staff through training and we hope that the New Year will be Ebola free. Finally, we welcome your collaboration with us as we seek to unlock the power of farmers and workers in Africa. Let us charter newer avenues of partnerships as Fairtrade Africa celebrates its tenth year next year.
Buy Fairtrade! Talk Fairtrade! And show your love for African farmers and workers.
Executive Director, Fairtrade Africa
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey
Fairtrade Farmers Call for Climate Action: Statement by the Fairtrade Producer Networks on the Occasion of COP20
One year ahead of the meeting in Paris, where nations will gather to agree on a new international climate change treaty, the twentieth United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima from 1-12 December 2014 will play a fundamental role in defining the future of our planet.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently completed its fifth assessment report, produced by hundreds of scientists around the world. The report removes any doubt on human responsibility for global warming and highlights the urgency of substantially reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to keep global warming below the critical 2 °C level.
Civil society also united for an unprecedented protest in New York on the eve of the UN climate Summit in September. Members of Fairtrade Producer Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAC) were among the over 400,000 participants. Thousands more took part in solidarity events in 162 countries.
Civil society and the scientific community are making a clear call to governments to reach ambitious mitigation commitments by all countries according to their responsibilities and according to their respective capabilities. A collective decision is needed to end the era of fossil fuels and begin the new era of renewable energies and sustainable development.
Small farmers and rural workers are among the groups most affected by the devastating impacts of climate change; however, their voice is not being heard in the negotiations. In response, the CLAC, on behalf of the three Fairtrade Producer networks representing more than 1.4 million farmers and rural workers fighting for a fairer trade worldwide, will be advocating at the COP20 in Lima for the interests of vulnerable and marginalized communities.
According to Fairtrade producers in the Latin America region, climate change is negatively affecting their crops and beekeeping at several stages of the production cycle. From Mexico to Chile, extreme weather events are affecting all crops and livestock, disrupting the delicate ecological balance needed to ensure food security of farm families, rural communities and urban consumers. These impacts are also being experienced by small producers in Asia and the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East
The three Fairtrade Producer Networks, Fairtrade Africa, NAPP, and CLAC together express the urgent need for action to identify and implement adaptation and mitigation measures to prevent the negative impacts of climate change. We need to influence and participate in formulating and implementing national and global policies to ensure that the resources required for adaptation are mobilized, as part of government’s strategies and policies.
Through Fairtrade, producers are empowered to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives. However, climate change threatens to erode the benefits of these efforts, leaving the “playing field” even more unfair and unbalanced.
Although Fairtrade provides great support, much more is needed to help smallholder farmers face these challenges and be able to continue to feed the world. There is an immediate urgent need to increase resilience to climate change and access more funding opportunities for climate change adaptation. Fairtrade producers urge governments and international actors involved in the agricultural sector to work together towards achieving food security and sovereignty for the regional and global population. Development based solely on unlimited growth of production and consumption is unsustainable, for both people and planet. For more details on COP20 please visit the conference website.
Who’s got the power? New study confirms imbalances in agricultural supply chains
Brussels, 18 November 2014. Have you ever wondered how come those local apples in season remain more expensive than bananas all year long? Why do poor farmers get poorer just as the international price of their products rise non-stop? Why is environmental damage increasing even as large companies prove they are implementing sustainability programmes? With city dwellers increasing and rural population dwindling, who will produce the food the hungry urbanites will demand?
The new study opens the door to the answers. “Who’s got the power? Tackling imbalances in agricultural supply chains”, released today in Brussels by the Fair Trade movement reveals how the growing integration –and concentration of power- in the supply chain of agricultural products is having a serious effect not only on producers far away from the supermarket shelves, but all along the supply chain, the environment and onto the choices available to consumers. Unfair trading practices (UTPs) appear, and they are not accidental but structural.
Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says in the foreword to the study that “the need to improve the governance of food systems, in order to avoid instances of excessive domination by a small number of major agrifood companies, is hardly ever referred to in international summits that seek to provide answers to the challenges of hunger and malnutrition. This report helps to fill that gap”.
The study identifies common patterns of concentration involving the main elements of the supply chain, the one exerting pressure on the other all the way down to the producers. The more these elements are integrated with one another, the stronger is the pressure exerted onto the next link in the supply chain:
- Retailers (supermarket chains)
- Branded products manufacturers
- Traders of produce
- Input producers (seeds, fertilizers, etc.)
In sheer size, the Consumers (7 billion) and the Producers/Farmers (2.5 billion) are by far the most numerous. However, most of the value share of the transaction (up to 86%) stays with numbers two to five. But trying to present the problem as one between consumers on one side, and farmers and workers on the other, is meaningless. The degradation of the trading and living conditions of farmers and workers, whether inside or outside Europe, creates important risks of unavailability and unaffordability of products for consumers in the midterm, reducing their welfare in the end.
Addressing concretely the global nature of the problem and its consequences, the study emits no less than 16 practical recommendations to policy-makers, businesses and workers all over the world. The European Union has a clear responsibility to prevent and punish UTPs, considering the superior purchase power of its 550 million inhabitants, as well as the numerous trade agreements it has with produce exporting countries. Transactions do not occur in a legal vacuum but national legislation needs to be adapted to counter the power concentration trend, and it is clear that no solution will be found in isolation, which is why the study includes action proposals to all seven links of the supply chain as well as to multilateral instances such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
In order to address and resolve the issues the study recommends actions to adopt a comprehensive strategy based on:
- A vision of consumer welfare that goes beyond purchasing power and recalls its inherent link with farmers’ and workers’ welfare.
- Measures to rebalance business power in agricultural chains in the short term, currently the law of the strongest has the upper hand.
- Mechanisms to enhance transparency in agricultural chains so that stakeholders can better identify the risks of abuse of buyer power and unfair trading practices.
- A renewed European competition policy framework capable of better regulating such abuses.
- Enforcement mechanisms to stop Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) within food supply chains serving the EU market, with authorities able to investigate claims and punish abuses.
- Initiatives to promote and widely spread fair trading practices in the mid to long run.
Notes to Editors:
a) The presentation and debate of the findings of the report is scheduled for 18 November 2014 at 12.30 at the European Parliament, please consult details at: www.fairtrade-advocacy.org
b) Please find attached and via the following links the Abstract and the Full versions of the study by BASIC (Bureau d’Analyse Sociétale pour une Information Citoyenne) titled “Who’s got the power? Tackling imbalances in agricultural supply chains”, November 2014. Available at www.fairtrade-advocacy.org/power
c) To book interviews with the authors of the report or the experts from the commissioning organizations, please contact Peter Möhringer at firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: +32 485 76 23 81).
d) For background information about the campaigns against UTPs organized by the Fair Trade movement members, please see compilation in PDF attached.
e) For more information about the organizations commissioning this study, please follow these links: Fairtrade International www.fairtrade.net; World Fair Trade Organization www.wfto.com; Fair Trade Advocacy Office www.fairtrade-advocacy.org; Traidcraft www.traidcraft.org.uk; Plate-forme pour le Commerce Equitable www.commercequitable.org; Fair Trade Germany www.fairtrade-deutschland.de
Fairtrade housewarming at the European parliament
8 October 2014 (Brussels) – The European Parliament Fair Trade Working Group hosted a Fair Trade Breakfast. Large numbers of renowned and new Members of the European Parliament attended in support of Fair Trade, marking a successful start to the new legislative term.
Linda McAvan, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Development and of the Fair Trade Working Group, welcomed the 50 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all major political groups, officials from Permanent Representations of European Union Member States, as well as Fair Trade movement actors and network representatives.
Haggai Onguka, First Counsellor, Embassy of the Republic of Kenya & Mission to EU(left), Dr Nyagoy Nyong’o, Executive Director-Fairtrade Africa, and Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.
Amongst the speakers addressing the crowd was Dr. Nyagoy Nyong’o, Executive Director of Fairtrade Africa where she presented the work of her organisation for Fairtrade certified producers in Africa.
In his keynote speech Bernd Lange, the Chair of the Committee on International Trade in the European Parliament, spoke about the importance of fairness in international trade.
Giorgio Dal Fiume, President of the World Fair Trade Organization–Europe presented in his speech what Fair Trade Organisations in Europe are doing to raise awareness and support small producers in the South.
For more details visit: Fair Trade housewarming at the European Parliament
Fairtrade response to Guardian article on “Fair Trade Scandal”
In response to an article on Guardian Global Development, which reproduced an extract from the book “Fair Trade Scandal”, Barbara Crowther, Fairtrade Foundation’s Director of Policy & Public Affairs, said:
“The Fairtrade system welcomes constructive debate, as we seek to continually strengthen our system and approach. It is a reality the in many of the commodities where Fairtrade operates – such as coffee and bananas – Latin America has traditionally dominated market access. Overcoming Africa’s historic exclusion from world trade markets is a long and slow process, but one we are actively engaged with. Fairtrade International’s response to Mr Syllah’s book can be found here: http://www.fairtrade.net/1114.html
“By focusing on figures from 2009, the article does not fully capture the changes in Fairtrade in Africa over the last five years. For example in 2012, the number of Fairtrade certified producer organisations in Africa grew by 23%, and six in ten of all farmers and workers in Fairtrade are now in Africa. Increasing their market access on Fairtrade terms is the challenge now. Fairtrade is working to boost the productivity and sales for African co-operatives in the commodities where they have a competitive advantage, such as with cocoa growers in Cote d’Ivoire or coffee growers in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2005, Fairtrade Africa has worked to strengthen the position of farmers and workers, and to contribute to greater sustainable development in Africa, and we are working with businesses to encourage them to do more to boost the volumes that are sourced from African producers. Producers and traders across Africa are also now engaged in establishing Africa-Africa Fairtrade supply chains, starting in South Africa and the Kenya & East African markets.
“Meanwhile it is overly simplistic to suggest geography alone determines wealth or poverty as we all know there are huge disparities of wealth in many Latin American countries, as there are in many African ones too. In Colombia, for example, a Fairtrade workers’ foundation made up of 15 certified farms has used its Fairtrade premiums to build a school because children in their rural villages were having to be taught under trees and in an old disused pigsty. That they have done so through better terms of trade rather than reliance on traditional aid, is something they, and we, can celebrate.”
Happy Valentine’s Day – Saying it with Fairtrade Red Roses
13 February 2014, Nairobi Kenya: Every year millions of people say “I love you” with red roses. For the more conscious buyer, the most beautiful way to say this is with Fairtrade flowers produced by Fairtrade certified farms.
Fairtrade Africa and its members work hard to ensure that these beautiful flowers benefit the workers (hired labour) as required in the Fairtrade Hired Labour Standards. You can download the Standard for Hired Labour from here www.fairtrade.net/hired-labour-standards/
It is, therefore, important that we respond to an article that appears in the Daily Mirror today, on the eve of Valentine’s Day 2014, that posts an incorrect picture on the rights and benefits earned by workers at one of our members’ farm, a highly recognised and committed Fairtade certified flower farm, since 2006, in Kenya namely Finlays Horticulture.
On the matter of the female worker earning 4,255 Kenyan shillings – about £30 per month, as Fairtrade, we follow ILO Conventions 100 on equal remuneration and 111 on discrimination as well as ILO Convention 110 in the case of plantations. All workers must work under fair conditions of employment. The company must pay wages in line with or exceeding national laws and agreements on minimum wages or the regional average. Conditions of employment and in particular salaries are in line with or exceed sector CBA regulations, the regional average and official minimum wages for similar occupations. Furthermore, we quote Finlays response that “The pay slips that the journalist were shown, that they have now shared with us, do not come from Finlays Horticulture although the Basic Pay of Ksh 6949.00 and Housing allowance of Ksh 2,000.00 are the rate that our lowest paid worker receives. The article then bases its wage comparisons on the net pay shown on the pay slip of Ksh 4,255.00; this is after the deduction of Ksh 3993.12 to a SACCO a voluntary saving and loan scheme that the worker would have asked us to pay. True disposable income is Ksh 8218.12 a month (£57.43).”
In the article, the journalist claims that the workers are expected to pick 8,000 roses an hour. Finlays have responded that this is not only wrong but probably physically impossible saying, “We would expect a skilled picker to handle between 100 and 150 per hour. On a typical day during the two harvesting periods a worker would normally fill 8 to 10 buckets with 80 stems not the 40 buckets at 200 per stem quoted. In between harvesting workers do other crop husbandry tasks.”
There are further claims made in the article such as comments about the working day which are incorrect since as per the Fairtrade standard working hours and overtime must comply with applicable law and industry standards. Workers are not required to work in excess of 48 hours per week on a regular basis. Also the article talks about the housing the workers live in. “Finlays Horticulture does not provide housing but pays a housing allowance of Ksh 2,000 per month. In Naivasha, Kshs 2,000/= is sufficient to pay for a house with electricity.” responded Finlays.
The worker is quoted as saying “I need proper medical help but I cannot afford a doctor“. It is a Fairtrade minimum requirement that workers are provided with free and regular medical care and advice, which is offered at the workplace at fixed times during working hours. According to Finlays, their farms have health clinics where trained nurses will see workers free of charge. If a worker needs to see a doctor they can use the Finlays run hospital, that is close to the farms and see a doctor for 40Kshs. This is a subsidised rate available to all employees and their dependants. As a comparison the rate in Naivasha town would be Ksh 500.
Clearly the benefits of buying Fairtrade flowers for your beloved ones at Valentine’s or indeed everyday of the year are clear. We thank you for your continued support and together we will continue to pursue the continuous ethical and sustainable development of Africa for the benefit of its workers and farmers.