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
Happy International Chocolate Day! What #Fairtrade chocolate are you going to enjoy today? Here are a few recommendations: Barry Callebaut, Belvas Chocolat, Chocomize, Divine Chocolate, Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate, Lily’s Sweets, Morris National’s Nusters, NEWTREE, Nirvana Chocolates, Valrhona Chocolate, Wonder Food Company.
Our local #Fairtrade friends, Ten Thousand Villages - Alexandria, VA, are looking to open up a new location in Washington, DC! If you are in the DC area, come out and support this great organization. For more information and tickets, please visit: www.villagesdc.org
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 , 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.
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
Happy National Honey Month! Check out this delicious recipe for Beehive Cookies from our Fairtrade partner Wholesome Sweeteners.
3/4 cup butter - lightly chilled, cut in bits
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
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.
The National Honey Board via Wholesome Sweeteners
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  worldwide in 2013.
Out of Fairtrade’s leading products, 2013 sales grew for coffee (8%), sugar (22%), bananas (12%) and flowers (16%).
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.”
 based on the average exchange rate in 2013
 growth rate for cocoa not applicable due to new calculation method
Originally from Fairtrade International
It’s just about time to send your kids back to school. Make sure they are
going with healthy and Fairtrade snacks! Wholesome Sweeteners has complied a list of delicious and kid-friendly treats for lunch. The Chocolate Avocado Recipe below is our favorite
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
2 large avocados, pitted and peeled
1 cup chocolate almond milk
1/4 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Fairtrade Organic Amber Honey
1/4 cup Fairtrade cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of gray sea salt
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 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.
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.
 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.
 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.