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Fairtrade empowers farmers & workers, to build better futures for themselves but also for the youth in their communities. #ThePowerOfYou

Fairtrade empowers farmers & workers, to build better futures for themselves but also for the youth in their communities. #ThePowerOfYou

New Living Wage Benchmarks Points The Way Forward:

Originally posted by Fairtrade International on June 10, 2014.

Three reports published today set new living wage benchmarks for rural South Africa, Dominican Republic and Malawi.

The reports, commissioned by Fairtrade International (Western Cape, South Africa), Fairtrade and Social Accountability International (Dominican Republic), and Fairtrade, Sustainable Agriculture Network/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified (Malawi) have been prepared by international experts Richard and Martha Anker[1] pioneering a new living wage methodology. The methodology is a major step forward in measuring living wage and can be used in any country for either rural or urban areas.

The reports document worker needs in a detailed yet simple, transparent way that everyone can understand. The reports clearly indicate the cost of a basic but decent standard of living for workers and their families. They also compare living wage estimates with current wages and include innovative ways to estimate fair and reasonable values for in-kind benefits.

Workers and employers in all three countries participated in the process to set the living wage benchmarks, and have given predominantly very positive feedback on the findings. With project co-ordination from our office in Bonn and together with local teams, the Ankers investigated the actual costs of workers on South African wine grape farms, Dominican Republic banana farms, and Malawi tea farms. We are also grateful for the support which field staff of Ethical Tea Partnership and Oxfam provided during the study in Malawi.

The teams visited markets where workers shop for food, visited workers homes, had discussions with workers as well as small farm owners, cooperative officers, plantation managers and owners, municipal officials, trade union members, university professors, architects and others. They also used many papers, reports and statistics from researchers, government agencies, and international organizations.[2]

The living wage for the wine grape growing region of Western Cape in South Africa was calculated to be ZAR 2385 per month (US$230) for permanent workers who receive free housing, free transportation to town each week as well as a 13th month bonus. For seasonal workers, it was ZAR 3122 per month (US$302).

In rural Dominican Republic the estimated living wage is DOP 11,966 per month (US$277) on farms that provide free transport, breakfast and lunch, or DOP 13,869 (US$319) per month without in-kind benefits.

In Malawi the living wage is K32,392 per month (US$75) when workers receive common in-kind benefits including lunch on workdays, health clinic, school building and crèche, and recreational services, or K35,222 per month (US$82) when no in-kind benefits are provided.

In all three countries the current national minimum wage falls short of the living wage estimates. In South Africa the gap is moderate for permanent workers (5%) but large for seasonal workers. In Dominican Republic and Malawi, the difference is substantial for all workers.

“These reports show us just how much work lies ahead. Finally we have clear numbers on what is a living wage, and the gap we must work towards closing,” said Wilbert Flinterman, Fairtrade International’s Senior Adviser on Workers’ Rights and Trade Union Relations.

The revised Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labor, which comes into effect in June, will require employers to negotiate with workers’ representatives on wages and make annual increases on real wages towards the living wage. It also opens the possibility for workers to spend up to 20% of the Fairtrade Premium as a bonus payment if they choose.

“All organizations involved in the research agree that there is no magic solution to quickly fix the low wage levels in developing countries that supply agricultural commodities to global markets,” stressed Flinterman. “Instead, we are strongly committed to fighting the causes of poverty among workers with a combination of our own interventions plus collaboration with other certifiers, NGOs and multi-stakeholder platforms, local employers, unions, buyers of agricultural commodities and retailers.”

Fairtrade has committed to seeking solutions for low wages together with other voluntary standards organizations in the ISEAL network.

In addition to the South Africa, Dominican Republic and Malawi studies, Fairtrade International has co-funded a living wage study with SAN/Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified for Kenya based on workers’ costs on flower plantations. This study is due to be published shortly.

Following this, Fairtrade International will work with partners to develop plans for moving toward living wage levels in all regions around the world where we have Fairtrade certified plantations and hired labor set-ups.

Download the Living Wage reports here.

Read more about Fairtrade’s living wage project here.


[1] Richard Anker is an economist retired from International Labour Organization (ILO) and an expert on labor, poverty and development. He has worked extensively on measurement of living wages and decent work and written a comprehensive review of living wages published by ILO (2011). He is currently a visiting scholar at the Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts.

Martha Anker is a statistician, retired from World Health Organization (WHO), who has extensive experience rapid assessment methodologies, and health and gender issues. She is currently adjunct faculty at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts.

[2] Estimates of expenses for food are based on the local cost of a locally acceptable, inexpensive, nutritious diet that meets WHO/FAO standards for nutrition. Estimates of expenses for housing are based on the local cost of basic housing that meets international and national standards of acceptability. Estimates for other costs, which are based on available survey data, are checked to make sure that enough money is available for education and healthcare as these are akin to basic human rights.

Sustainability Standards

Did you know Fairtrade follows the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Standard Setting? It is the global reference for sustainability standards. We also consult producers & business partners to regularly review our standards and prices. Find out more about how the #Fairtrade standards & prices are set: http://www.slideshare.net/fairtrade/setting-the-fairtrade-standards

Nicolas Mounard: The Business Case for Investing in Female Farmers

Originally posted August 7th, on FarmingFirst.org

Nicolas_Twin

In this guest post, Nicolas Mounard, Managing Director of Twin & Twin Trading discusses a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo that illustrated the powerful impact investing in female farmers can have.

Last summer, I accompanied a group of coffee buyers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Above all the accounts I heard from coffee farmers (both appalling and inspiring), one moment stuck in my mind. I was visiting a women’s committee to see how they were spending the 2 cents premium per lb of coffee that Twin negotiates on their behalf.

Not only had a community flour mill had been built, a motorboat service had also been set up on the giant Lake Kivu to taxi residents about. I ask the women, dressed in their colorful Sunday best, how they will spend the extra income from these businesses. They are full of ideas; hands stretch up to announce medicines, pigs and cows to bring in yet more money, school books and lessons for the kids. But poignantly, one woman simply says she will send herself to school – it’s her time now; she wants the education she and countless others like her were denied.

Challenges faced by women farmers in the DRC

According to FAO figures, 73% of working women are farmers in the DRC and half of all farmers in the country are women. Despite this central role, women often have little say in the running of their farm or on how household income is spent. This is compounded by additional barriers to men in accessing credit and owning land – less than 1% of land is owned by women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Last year, Twin undertook a study to understand the role that women play within our own supply chains and the challenges they face. The report Empowering women farmers in agricultural value chainfound that despite providing the majority of the labor (on top of household duties), it is men who take the crop to market and complete the sale. Along with the responsibility, men get the power; power over information on market prices, power over expenditure,  power over the business of farming.

The role that business can play in empowering women farmers

Businesses can play a transformative role in unsetting the poverty trap for farmers, including women. As I witnessed firsthand in the DRC, Twin’s partnership with Sainsbury’s and Finlays is already bearing fruits in the most challenging circumstances. Last summer, Sopacdi was the first ever single origin coffee from the DRC to go on sale in the UK. Now, demand for Sopacdi coffee is far outstripping supply and the cooperative, in partnership with Twin, won the SCAA Sustainability Award 2014.

In terms of the premium for products produced by women buyers pay, just small investments have brought change – to the confidence and standing of the women concerned, but also to the wider community. Not only did the women’s groups have smart business ideas, they also set up much needed community services, such as the mill and motor boat service. In a development sense, women show a high return on investment because they prioritize spending on family health, education and food security. The FAO estimates that if women farmers had the same access to agricultural inputs and credit as men, there would be up to 150 million fewer people living with hunger.

Photo courtesy of Twin

Photo courtesy of Twin

Making the case to businesses about women’s empowerment

So the development case is clear, but why should businesses invest in women? Firstly, as our report shows, women tend to take the lead at crucial stages of the production process that influence quality, taste and even food safety. In the commodities looked at, women are largely responsible for shelling and grading nuts, fermenting and drying coffee and fermenting cocoa. Secondly, our report showed women are often more responsible with money, so giving them leadership opportunities can lead to more efficient, reliable producer organizations. Businesses can be a catalyst for change by establishing corporate gender policies that encourage suppliers to commit to equal representation for women on co-operative boards, as well as in the general membership.

Finally, businesses should not forget that as well as depending on women to grow their ingredients, they rely on the custom of women to make a healthy profit. And, in an increasingly crowded market for ethical goods, deeper Fair Trade engagement is needed to stand out from the pack.

This March we launched a fully-traceable coffee, produced by women growers in partnership with Sainsbury’s.  This Rwandan Kopakama coffee also carries a premium to support women members of the cooperative. This reminds us as shoppers that the prevailing image of a farmer around this world is of a woman – not a man. It also demonstrates to the women involved in the project that they are not forgotten, they are not invisible – in fact, that we appreciate their hard work. This is a powerful message at both ends of the value chain, one that supports development, quality and the sustainability of smallholder agriculture.

Premium Water saves mothers from long water journeys in Nandi Hills

Originally posted by Fairtrade Eastern-Africa. 

The beautiful green hills of Nandi are a good training ground for the Kenyan athletes who climb and roll the slopes and valleys to win international middle and long distance races.

But to mothers, the hills are a curse because they have to carry heavy jericans of water on their backs from the streams uphill several times a day to provide for their families’ domestic use.

For many years, Rosa Cheruiyot now in her sixties had been travelling over six kilometers a day to get the water for cooking, drinking and washing.

“I used to go the other side, or the other side or the other side around this Kosoywo area to get the water”, describes Rosa, as she points in different directions from her home.

The problem is no more. Thanks to the Sinendet Water project that was constructed by Sireet Out growers Empowerment and Producers Company limited, using Fairtrade Premium from the sales of tea.

The grey haired grandmother now moves only less than ten meters to fetch water from a tap in front of her beautiful house.

A big water tank constructed from concrete, cement, bricks, timber and corrugated iron sheets holds water that serves over 3000 people, most of them small scale tea farmers.

The sound of water dripping in to the tank about 25 meters from Rosa’s house is like a song that cheers up her face.

“I am very happy and I say thank you to Sireet and to God. Look, I am a ‘kogo’ (grand mother). I was tired of walking far away to fetch the water. My legs are now weak. But for now about three years or so, I have had a rest”, says Rosa smiling, amid struggle to pronounce the word Premium, which she says was the money that build the water tank.

She enters the house and comes out with a big aluminum sauce pan. She puts it down and plucks a stopper out of a hanging plastic water pipe that is connected to the tank. The water jets out with high pressure and within less than two minutes the saucepan is full.

“Now you have seen for yourself what I mean when I say I am happy to have water.”

The water is supplied to the tank by gravity making it very sustainable, meaning no monthly water bills, connection fee and the frequent water rationing. The water is captured from a catchment hill across about six kilometers away.

This is part of the community projects that have been initiated using the premium earned from Fairtrade tea from Sireet Outgrowers Empowerment and Producers Company Ltd, which brings together more than 6000 small holder tea farmers, who contributed money from their tea to buy the company.

The company director Paul Tiony says mothers in Africa spent more time walking long distances in search of water and fire wood, and it was high time this came to an end.

“We want to address this problem by availing clean drinking water closer to the community, so that mothers can spend more time doing other tasks”, said Mr. Tiony.

“We urge Kenyans to buy more Fairtrade labeled tea so that we can build more such water projects”.

Other similar water projects include Barasendu which serves more than 1, 500 people and Kaputi which serves almost the same number.

Mr. Tiony appeals to Kenyans to buy more products with the FAIRTRADE Mark to help more projects to the communities.

“It is good that Fairtrade Eastern African is now in place. We hope to see more Kenyans buying Fairtrade labeled products to improve the lives of our people”.

Happy National Ice Cream Month!

Celebrate and cool down this month, with this delicious & Fairtrade ice cream recipe from Green & Black’s Chocolate. Don’t forget to use Fairtrade sugar as well! 

3 extra-large free-range egg yolks

½ cup superfine sugar

2/3 cup milk

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 oz dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, grated

3 ½ oz dark (85% cocoa solids) chocolate, grated

½ cup buttermilk

Put the egg yolks with half the sugar in a medium bowl andwhisk until light, fluffy, and pale in color. Heat the milk and cream togetherwith the remaining sugar to just under boiling point. Pour the cream mixtureinto the yolks and whisk until blended. Immediately return to the pan and cookover medium heat until it begins to thicken. Do not allow to boil.

Add the grated chocolate and stir until smooth. Add thebuttermilk and stir under well blended.

Strain into a chilled bowl and cool. Once cool, pour into anice-cream maker and churn following the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep inthe freezer until required. It is best served within 12 hours of churning, butwill keep well for at least 1 week in the freezer.

Woo-Hoo for UIMQROO!

Originally posted on July 14th by Glee Guy.

Not only does Glee Gum offer delicious & Fairtrade gum flavors, but the company is making an impact on the education of many in Mexico. 

What is UIMQROO? It stands for the Maya Intercultural University of Quintana Roo, an incredible Mexican school with which our company is now partnering. This public university was started in 2007 and, from the beginning, set out to be innovative. Its mission is to contribute to social and economic development in the region of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan. And it’s doing so by developing a cadre of professionals to bring their cultural heritage to bear and use their training to create positive changes there.

This past May, our company president Deborah Schimberg visited the campus of UIMQROO to guest-lecture a class on social entrepreneurship. She explained how her interest in the sustainable harvest of chicle, the tree sap used to make gum chewy, led to her development of Glee Gum. Many of the studentsin attendance had family members who harvested chicle. It was a rare and exciting opportunity to close the circle of production from tree to Glee!

UIMQROO is focused on multilingualism, so all students learn in Spanish, Maya, and English. The university is also focused on interculturalism. For example, each summer, students return to their homes to apply their studies to actual problems happening in their respective villages. Students can earn degrees in one of eight areas of study: Agro-ecology, Municipal Management, Language & Culture, Community Health, Alternative Tourism, Intercultural Education & Arts Management, Social Entrepreneurship, and Information and Communication Technology.

At the present time, there are about 550 students at UIMQROO— 97% of whom are on financial aid. Our company, Verve, is proud to contribute to the UIMQROO’s financial aid budget, helping to make it possible for students to attend and thrive in this truly unique school. We’ll keep you updated as we work to find more ways of supporting UIMQROO and its students!

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