Press releases & Statements

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.

This1.Karibu 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.

Nyagoy Nyong’o

Executive Director, Fairtrade Africa

 Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

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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.

Read more on our: COP20 – Fairtrade Climate Change fact sheet and COP20 – Fairtrade adaptation case studies

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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[1] 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)[2] 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:

  1. Consumers
  2. Retailers (supermarket chains)
  3. Branded products manufacturers
  4. Traders of produce
  5. Processors/Refiners
  6. Producers/Farmers
  7. 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.

*END*

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 moehringer@fairtrade-advocacy.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

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Fairtrade housewarming at the European parliament

8 October 2014 (Brussels) – The European Parliament Fair Trade Working Group hosted a Fair Trade BreakfastLarge 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

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Fairtrade response to Guardian article on “Fair Trade Scandal”

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.

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.”

ENDS

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.

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