On International Day of Cooperatives We Celebrate Ketiara Coffee Cooperative

The Ketiara Coffee Cooperative in Indonesia illustrates the benefits of the cooperative model for smallholder farmers around the world. Founder and chairwoman Ibu Rahmah – known to Ketiara farmers as “mother” – views the co-op as a family. Starting with just 38 members in 2009, the organization has now grown to 1,979 small farmers, more than half of whom are women. Choosing to unite as a cooperative has given members more negotiating power in a crowded marketplace, an important benefit in the mountainous region of the Central Aceh Regency where coffee is the sole cash crop.

Ketiara became Fairtrade certified in 2012, opening up new avenues of growth and a means to differentiate their product from conventionally grown coffee. Fairtrade certification also provides the co-op family with mechanisms for long-term investment in their future, both through a guaranteed minimum price and the Fairtrade Premium. Ketiara has applied their Fairtrade Premium to initiatives like planting avocado trees on steep slopes to provide a buffer against erosion. The trees help prevent landslides on farms during the rainy season and provide an additional source of income for members. Ketiara is planning to invest future Premiums in community health and education projects. Through all this growth and change, Chairwoman Rahmah stresses the importance of remaining united as a “family.” The co-op model, along with Fairtrade, is an important tool for Ketiara farmers to secure a sustainable future for themselves and their children.

Today on International Day of Cooperatives, we salute Ketiara, and cooperatives all over the world that are part of our Fairtrade family.

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Show moms around the world some love by choosing Fairtrade for Mother's Day

As you spoil mom on Mother’s Day, amplify your appreciation by opting for Fairtrade products that will turn the day into something even more meaningful.

This Mother’s Day, why not celebrate your mom in a way that shows you love her and makes a real difference in the lives of many other mothers? It’s as simple as breakfast in bed – if you choose your treats wisely. That’s because a tray carrying a cup of coffee, sweet crepes, rich chocolates and lovely flowers reaches a deeper level of meaning when all of those items are Fairtrade.

The fact is, too many mothers are struggling this Mother’s Day – three quarters of the world’s poorest men, women and children live in rural areas in developing countries, surviving on less than $1.25 per day. Most moms in these communities depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and the poverty cycle can be broken when farmers receive a fair price for their crops or a fair wage for their work. By choosing Fairtrade, you can make a big difference in the quality of life for these workers and their families.

Let’s break it down.

That sweet little vase of Fairtrade roses that you bought? You can be sure the flowers are ethically sourced and grown under strict environmental sustainability standards. Fairtrade Certified means that workers’ rights are being respected, and that the Fairtrade Premium – the extra sum that farmers and workers receive to invest in business or community improvements – is contributing to better lives for mothers in developing countries.

© Photo: Nathalie Bertrams. Flower sorter Grace Nzisa has been one of 700 employees working at Harvest Limited Athi River flower farm, near Nairobi, Kenya, for twelve years. Harvest Ltd has been Fairtrade certified since 2011. 

For example, Grace Nzisa of Kenya is a 44-year-old widow and mother of four who works on a Fairtrade certified flower farm. Through hard work and scholarships funded by the Fairtrade Premium, Grace and three of her children have all been able to attend university and improve their lives in very tangible ways.

The piping hot Fairtrade-certified java in that “I Heart Mom” mug is literally a symbol of empowerment for Magda Reza, a mother of five and coffee farmer in Peru. Like many other small-scale coffee farmers, Magda’s small farm (as well as her entire cooperative) is dealing with the devastating effects of climate change, including a fungus known as “La Roya.”

La Roya, also known as Coffee Rust, has wiped out large numbers of coffee bushes, and with it many farmers’ main source of income. But, Magda recently took matters into her own hands by participating in a training program organized by Fairtrade and others. Through this program she’s learned techniques on how to mitigate the effects of climate change and better manage her land. Furthermore, she’s now able to train others in her cooperative on how they can improve the management of their own farms.

© Photo: Santiago Engelhardt. Magda Reza, a coffee producer at APANS near Pangoa, Peru.  

Similarly, the Fairtrade certified sugar on those crepes and cocoa in that box of chocolates can help mothers in regions all over the world create a better life for themselves and their families, because there are countless ways the Fairtrade Premium is used to support women.

For example, premiums have been used to improve access to:

  • Water
  • Healthcare
  • Childcare facilities
  • Transportation
  • Household domestic goods, like more efficient cook stoves

Each of these improvements reduces the amount of time women must spend on unpaid work, and frees up time for paid work, education and training.

© Photo: Simon Rawles. June Moi, Head Nurse at Taito Dispensary which was renovated in 2008-2010 using Premium funds provides outpatient services, support for infant and expectant mothers, family counselling, HIV testing and nutritional support.  

Every mother hopes that her children will grow up to enjoy happy, healthy and productive lives. Fairtrade is helping make that possible for women around the world. As you spoil your own mom this weekend, amplify your appreciation by opting for Fairtrade products that will turn Mother’s Day into something even more meaningful.


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Meet some of the Fairtrade cotton farmers and workers in India #WhoMadeMyClothes

Sardar Singh is a Fairtrade cotton farmer in Tharwar Tanda, India. He says that he gets better payment for his cotton now that he can sell it on Fairtrade terms. He has also converted to organic farming and found that it’s actually cheaper to grow his cotton organically because he saves on the cost of buying expensive pesticides.

Kamal picks cotton on Narendra Patidar’s farm in Madhya Pradesh, India. While his father also owns a farm, he works as a labourer in other farms when there is nothing to do in his father’s farm. He earns 5 rupees per kilogram and can pick up to 40kg per day. 

Sapna Mandloi also picks cotton on Narendra Patidar’s farm.

Lalita Jat mends a cotton collection sack in her home in Madhya Pradesh, India. Lalita’s husband is a cotton farmer. She attended a sewing course started by the Fairtrade cotton farmers in her village with the Fairtrade Premium funds. She is now able to save money for her family by making clothes and mending cotton collecting sacks.

Sugna Jat picks cotton together with her husband, Nandaram Jat, on their farm in Madhya Pradesh, India. Sugna and Nandaram do the farming together and hire labourers at a fair wage when they need to.

Three generations of cotton farmers: Nitin Jat, Chetan Jat, and Bhagirata Jat, outside their home in Madhya Pradesh, India. Nitin, wants to continue cotton farming like the generations before him. He would like to also have a government job in the village so he can have an added source of income and pension (as his grandfather did).

Mamta Jat learns how to sew a garment at a sewing course in Madhya Pradesh, India. Kavita, a sewing teacher who is hired using the Fairtrade Premium, travels to a different village every few weeks.  to conduct the free course.

Cotton is one of the world’s most important crops in terms of land use after food grains and soy beans. But millions of small-scale cotton farmers are at the far end of a multi-billion dollar textile supply chain that leaves them trapped in poverty. This Fashion Revolution Day, we must make the textile industry work for the entire supply chain. 

What’s the price of Fast Fashion?

Cooperative Chetna Organic - cotton pickers in field. Photo by Vipul Kulkarni

While clothing prices hit rock bottom with a T-shirt costing as little as $2, the human and environmental costs are sky rocketing in the multi-trillion dollar fashion industry.

As a new film, True Cost, about the human and environmental costs created by the fashion industry is released, the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK put together a report, warning that we need to change the way we view fashion and reconnect with all the many people who work to bring us our clothes, starting with the cotton farmers. They are the ones who pay the real price.

Over 60% of the world’s cotton is produced by an estimated 100 million smallholder farmers. Of these, 90% are in developing countries and grow cotton on less than 12 acres of land and are some of the poorest in the world. Up to 300 million people work in the cotton sector when family labor, farm labor and workers in ancillary services such as transportation, ginning, baling and storage are taken into account.

For farmers, the challenges range from the impact of poor prices for seed cotton, climate change, through to competition from highly subsidized producers in the US and China and poor terms of trade.

Subindu Garkhel, Cotton Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation based in London, said: “It’s tragic that one of the unseen impacts of fashion today is that cotton is failing to provide a living income for millions of small-scale farmers. Fashion for a bargain – that’s what everyone wants. But a bargain comes at a price. The fact that prices continue to fall should be a wake-up call for shoppers: farmers and workers are paying the price of our fashion bargains. Unless consumers and business are prepared to pay the true cost of our clothes, poverty will continue.”

Safia Minney, CEO of Fair Trade fashion label People Tree, who features in True Cost says: “I hope True Cost inspires and motivates people to care about each other and our precious earth. I believe the secrets of sustainability and well-being in society lie with the farmers and workers – with the people – not in the ivory towers of big corporations and the establishment who are dangerously out of touch. Good business and economic practice can pull people out of poverty and innovate and generate new environmental production methods and supply chains. Fairtrade and sustainable fashion can empower the poor, bring about social and environmental justice and transform our economy and well-being in society. Fast fashion as we know it must stop!”

Fairtrade cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Through tools like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium and stronger, more democratic organizations, Fairtrade has sought to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.

In addition to a limited theatrical release worldwide on May 29th, True Cost will be available to purchase on iTunes, Amazon, VHX, DVD and Blu Ray. For more information, please visit True Cost Movie.

Fairtrade America has partnered with Dhana Inc to sponsor a screening of True Cost in Mill Valley, CA on June 7th. For information and how to buy tickets, click here.

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Cambodian farmers seek Fairtrade certification for “World’s Best Rice”

“My hope is that with Fairtrade, I can earn enough from farming to keep my whole family together.”

Left to right: Mrs. Cliang Mau, Ms. Vann Samnorl, Mrs. Tham Samnang, Mr. Tham San.

Vann Samnorl farms 5 hectares of floodplain rice fields with her family in Nikom Knong village in Cambodia. Now 25 years old, Samnorl left her family at a young age to work in the hotel and sales industry because farming was not sustainable. She and her fiancé Jim Plamondon hope Fairtrade certification will allow her and her family to return to farming, and produce enough rice to support themselves.

This hope is within reach: Cambodian rice is now eligible for Quick Entrance into Fairtrade. With thousands of rice varieties grown worldwide and only 12 previously identified in Fairtrade price classification tables, a producer might have had a long wait for a new variety to be added while Fairtrade conducted market research and consultation. Quick Entrance allows for a streamlined procedure for new varieties, which can be certified in a matter of weeks.
Samnorl and her family grow Rumduol rice, which as she proudly explains, “has won the international ‘World’s Best Rice’ competition for three years in a row. With Fairtrade certification, Cambodian farmers will get a better price for the World’s Best Rice, and the world will learn how delicious rice can be.”

Quick Entrance means that producers receive a 15% Fairtrade Premium, based on the selling price of the rice. Fairtrade then monitors the product’s development to see if a Minimum Price should also be set. See an overview of all current Fairtrade products and prices on our webpage http://www.fairtrade.net/price-and-premium-info.html

Tea farmers growing different and stronger with ADAPTea project

Timothy Mulunga on his farm

Timothy Mulunga is a tea farmer. He set up a new plot in front of his house with ViAgroforestry support, where he planted coffee and bananas, yam, sugar cane and sorghum, as another source of income and for his own use. He also planted several trees to provide shade, fix nitrogen in the soil, and they can be used to prepare organic insecticide.

“Other farmers want to learn from me, I established a coffee nursery and I am selling coffee seedlings to my neighbors and assisting them on planting and best practices.”

He’s a member of Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA) in Tanzania and one of 14,000 farmers in East Africa taking part in ADAPTea, a two-year project to support tea producers to adapt to climate change. Working together, ViAgroforestry, Fairtrade Africa and Fairtrade International (funded by the Nordic Climate Facility and project partners) aims to make these farmers and their communities from 21 smallholder organizations stronger – economically, socially and environmentally.

His neighbor in the village is Boaz Mwandambo, one of the lead farmers trained by ViAgroforestry, who showed us the demonstration plot set up as part of the project. Here farmers learned how to plant tea, make fertilizer from a local wild sunflower and conserve soil by planting trees and elephant grass around the plot to avoid erosion. The plot offers young people the chance to learn how to plant tea and already two youngsters have started their own plots.

Boaz explaining in the demo plot

RSTGA plans to spread the message of ADAPTea more widely with a radio program on its own station, Chai Radio, explaining the impacts of climate change, and ways to adapt and increase resilience, using the manual that was developed and distributed as part of the project.

Contributed by Catharine Russell, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager, Fairtrade Africa and Giannina Cadena, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Officer, Fairtrade International. To find out more about the project, contact Giannina: g.cadena@fairtrade.net

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