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Citizens empowered to enjoy dignity and freedom – this is one of the ways we define democracy. The International Day of Democracy on 15 September gives us an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world

Fairtrade encourages democratic decision-making and principles throughout our global system. Our experience has taught us that local ownership and leadership are key to increasing impact for Fairtrade farmers, workers and their communities.

When Fairtrade farmers and workers sell their products on Fairtrade terms, they receive the Fairtrade Premium, in addition to the purchase price. Producers themselves democratically decide in their own general assembly how to spend this Premium on projects to improve their communities and businesses.

At a regional level, Fairtrade producer networks are beginning to take over the producer services function, giving producers a greater say in the type of services and support they receive. Fairtrade Africa now handles producer services in Africa and the Middle East, while the producer networks in Latin America and Asia are moving in a similar direction.

At the global level, Fairtrade farmers and workers share decision-making responsibilities in our general assembly, on our board of directors and in various committees. Fairtrade’s commitment is to involve farmers and workers in decision-making, planning and implementation. By uniting all of our members and working together with like-minded organizations, we can and will change the rules of trade and enable farmers and workers to map out their own future.

Originally posted on Fairtrade International

Photographer Sean Hawkey has worked in international development, advocacy and humanitarian efforts in 40 countries, spending 10 years in Latin America alone. Now as a freelance photographer and communicator, Hawkey travels the globe documenting good works. Thanks to funding from Irish Aid, Hawkey, along with photographer James Rodriguez, traveled the whole of Central America making images and recording the stories of Fairtrade farmers. Hawkey has also made pictures of Fairtrade farmers and workers in Senegal and Peru. See more of Hawkey’s photos here.

You had an intense travel schedule throughout Central America, how did it go?

I drove over 50,000 kilometers going between Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and about a third of the trip was in first gear because all of the roads were so rough. It was a long journey, but a fascinating one. I was able to take photos of most of the producer organizations and in many of them I’d visit several farms. We deliberately chose the harvest time for coffee, but also I covered cocoa, and honey. I’ve been stung by Africanized bees in the Peten jungle, made photos of sesame and peanut producers, cashews, cotton, and a variety of other products. 

What type of ground did you cover for the majority of that 50,000 km?

Coffee typically! For a good coffee - the best ground is high, so typically we’d be going up steep mountain roads that aren’t paved. They’re just dirt paths, no gravel or anything. They’re easily washed away. Need to be frequently repaired to get product out of the farm. Almost none of the producers are near the good paved roads.

Then for cocoa, going down into Wasalala in Nicaragua is the worst road I’ve ever been on. It’s like driving across ploughed fields and stone quarries. I had three punctures on the way down. When I got there, people said, “What? You only brought one spare tire?!”

As a photographer what do you experiences in the field?

There’s a necessary process of sitting down and talking to people. If they’re coffee producers, they always like you to taste their coffee, but it does take time to build up a bit of rapport with people. As a photographer what I want to do is make best use of the golden hour, which is when the sun is low in the morning and in the afternoon because that’s the nicest to shoot in. But it’s difficult to get the farmer to understand the necessities of a photographer <with all of the demands of daily work>.

But I also wanted to show, in a lot of the images, what normal life is. I think these are a connecting point, reference points, like showing a woman in her kitchen to spend some time if she’s cooking a meal - that’s what people can relate to. It’s those normal everyday things that give us reference points to identify with people in Fairtrade across the world.

How did you get into photography and storytelling?

I began visiting Latin America for aid and development work, so I have a background in rural development. The best development work is getting those long-term decisions right, the political decisions and structural things rather than giving out food to people. It’s these long-term things that are most significant.

Anywhere I go, when I ask what people are most proud of, it’s normally about long-term structural changes and there is a really important role for communications here. You need to convince people of the usefulness of any project you’re doing. It’s an absolutely key part of it.

We need to show people evidence of how Fairtrade is changing people’s lives – and it really is changing tens of thousands of people’s lives. So that’s how I got into the process of taking photographs.

What do you see as the benefits of Fairtrade?

I think the whole Fairtrade process of becoming certified and the regular audits encourages people to think strategically about how they’re using the benefits of Fairtrade – The Premium and so on. Typically the cooperatives are small enough that they have a really good sense of what the needs on the ground are.

And that contrasts with the way a lot of development organizations work, which they send someone in from the outside to come in and look at what the needs are, which may contrast with what the real needs and priorities are.

But the strength of the Fairtrade model is that co-ops really understand because they’re part of it. They’re not detached in any way from the reality on the ground. They understand what the needs are and they can prioritize how that money is used effectively.

You have visited much of the world. What is the most impressive thing you observed on your trips for Fairtrade?

The value of women in their communities and their co-ops has changed enormously. And I’ve seen situations where, for example in Senegal, women wouldn’t even be allowed to sit with the men, and when Fairtrade came they said, women have to sit with the men and they have to have power of decision-making exactly the same as the men. It’s radically changed. 

This isn’t one of the big selling points of Fairtrade, but in those villages in Senegal its greatest strength is that it completely changed the power of women in the community, dramatic change. Fairtrade demands it, so they have to change the structure of the cooperative, the way it’s managed.

Originally posted on August 29th at Fairtrade International

National Honey Month: Beehive Cookie Recipe

Happy National Honey Month! Check out this delicious recipe for Beehive Cookies from our Fairtrade partner Wholesome Sweeteners.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


3/4 cup butter - lightly chilled, cut in bits

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Fairtrade Organic Raw Honey

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 cage-free organic egg

3 cups flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt


Cream butter, brown sugar, honey and lemon zest until smooth. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients in thirds, mixing well with each addition. Scrape dough onto plastic wrap.  Shape it into a log about 12 inches long. Chill an hour or so until firm, or up to 24 hours. Heat oven to 350°F. Thoroughly mix dry ingredients reserve. Cut log into 1/4-inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired, lightly pressing sugar into dough. Bake until edges are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a rack. Cool completely.

Recipe source
The National Honey Board via Wholesome Sweeteners

Fairtrade Delivering Change

Continued 15% growth in the market, more support and services for farmers and workers.


Shoppers continue to reach for FAIRTRADE Mark labeled products in ever growing numbers while Fairtrade’s offer to farmers and workers deepens, according to a new report out today by Fairtrade International.

The world’s leading ethical label had strong continued growth as consumer sales of Fairtrade certified products hit $7.3 billion [1] worldwide in 2013.

Out of Fairtrade’s leading products, 2013 sales grew for coffee (8%), sugar (22%), bananas (12%) and flowers (16%).[2]

Strongest growth markets include the USA, where sales of Fairtrade products grew to $426 million since the FAIRTRADE Mark’s introduction in 2012, and new South-South markets India and Kenya, who join South Africa as Fairtrade producer countries with rapidly-growing sales of Fairtrade products in their own markets.

Germany cemented its number two market position after the UK, with consumer retail sales topping $847 million following strong 23% annual growth.

More support and services for farmers and workers

At the same time Fairtrade International reports a number of far-reaching initiatives set to open more opportunities for the people at the far end of the supply chain – now more than 1.4 million farmers and workers, belonging to 1210 producer organizations in 74 countries.

“We’re matching growth in the market with new approaches to deepen impact for farmers and workers,” says Harriet Lamb, Chief Executive of Fairtrade International.

“If a day is a long time in politics, then a year is a short time in sustainability. Yet over the past year, we introduced new living wage benchmarks, piloted community-based approaches to prevent child labour, supported local trade unions to negotiate with employers… And this is only half-way through delivering on the bold new strategy we announced last year.”

Fairtrade introduced new programmes to support small farmers’ organizations to strengthen their resilience. The Fairtrade Access Fund dispensed a total of $10 million in loans to 14 producer organizations, benefiting more than 60,000 farmers. Fairtrade launched three new climate change adaptation projects in Latin America and East Africa. These programmes are run together with partners and complement Fairtrade’s core standards, certification and labeling activities.

Fairtrade also overhauled its approach with workers. A revised Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labour includes greater autonomy for workers in decision-making, more support for freedom of association, further flexibility on Fairtrade Premium use, and clearer requirements to progress towards living wage.

More rigorous impact monitoring

The organization has invested in a more rigorous impact monitoring system. Impact studies carried out over the year showed a range of positive benefits. For example in research by CODER on bananas in Colombia, all hired workers indicated their quality of life was better after their plantations joined Fairtrade, while 96% of the smallholder farmers affirmed that their economic situation had improved, on average by 34%, since joining Fairtrade. Research also highlighted challenging conditions for casual labourers on small-scale farms and the need for greater market access for many producers. Fairtrade is already taking steps in both areas.

“Fairtrade is about empowerment and long-term development, as farmers and workers transform deeply ingrained problems step-by-step to build a better future for themselves, their families and communities,” said Marike de Peña, Chair of the Fairtrade International Board and director of a banana cooperative in the Dominican Republic.

“We can and will change the rules of trade, and enable producers and workers to map out their own future.”

Additional highlights

  • Emerging markets Czech Republic, Hong Kong and South Korea all doubled annual consumer sales.

  • Fairtrade Premium payments, received by producers on top on the selling price, reached over $114 million. Small farmer organizations invested 86 percent in farmer services and strengthening cooperatives. 

  • Eleven companies signed on to the new Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, with pledges to increase purchase volumes of Fairtrade cocoa and cotton year-on-year, set to deliver $1.7million additional Fairtrade Premium funds to cocoa farmers in 2014 alone. 

  • Fairtrade Africa, the regional Fairtrade organization governed by producers, took over delivery of services to farmers and workers in Africa and the Middle East.

  • There are over 30,000 Fairtrade retail products on sale in 125 countries.

Download the 2013-14 Fairtrade International Annual Report ‘Strong Producers, Strong Future’ (PDF).

[1] based on the average exchange rate in 2013

[2] growth rate for cocoa not applicable due to new calculation method

Originally from Fairtrade International

McGill University in Montreal kicked off the school year with the world’s biggest Fairtrade brownie! Over 4,000 pounds of delicious brownie made with Fairtrade certified and local ingredients were served at Quebec’s first and only Fair Trade Campus. 

With 1,750 members, the democratically organized Manduvira Cooperative exports #Fairtrade Certified Organic sugar to nearly 20 countries in the world. Read more here:
With 1,750 members, the democratically organized Manduvira Cooperative exports #Fairtrade Certified Organic sugar to nearly 20 countries in the world. Read more here:
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