Let us give you some reasons to smile about what is going on in trade in the world. There are some fantastic initiatives out there to give us hope.
From time to time we will update these news stories so that you might be able to scroll through and be inspired by some of the landmarks that have been achieved.
If you would like a more general run through of Fairtrade history please click here.
We have included at the bottom of each story a link to the original story. As time goes by these may not work but we have included a small portion of the story to give you a reasonable picture of what went on.
October 2016 Kenya
60,000 flower farm workers get 25 per cent pay increase
Over 60,000 flower farm workers across the country are set to benefit from a 25 per cent salary increase. This is after the Agricultural Employers' Association(AEA) signed officially a pending Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Central Organization of Trade Union(COTU). Representing flower farm employers AEA Chief Executive Officer Wesley Siele said some 60,000 are the targeted beneficiaries from this new remuneration. Siele said the two year CBA which will be expiring in July 2017 will be backdated to July 2015 when it was agreed upon. "I know it is a little late to formalize this agreement but we have been having extensive discussions that have given us a clear way forward," he said. Apart from increasing pay, the CBA will also be looking into improving the workers working conditions. COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli cited the CBA as a big win for majority of unskilled workers in the sector who are the forgotten lot. Of the about 100,000 flower farm workers, some 54,000 are said to be employed on casual basis with the lowest getting a starting salary of between Sh7,000 and Sh10,000 with allowances.
October 2016 Vietnam
Farmer incomes to be $2,020 by 2020
The annual income of Vietnamese farmers has been targeted to reach VND45 million ($2,020) by 2020 under national criteria for new rural areas in the 2016-2020 period.
While the general annual income is targeted at VND45 million, the minimum for farmers in the northern mountainous region and the north-central region is targeted at VND36 million ($1,616) per year, in the Red River Delta VND50 million ($2,244), in the south-central coastal region and central highlands VND41 million ($1,842), in the southern region VND59 million ($2,648), and in the Mekong Delta VND50 million ($2,244).
The Prime Minister has called for improvements in understanding and responsibility among leaders in local authorities about new rural development programs, which should drive agriculture startups and create new a generation of farmers who are active and innovative.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s First Sustainable Economic Development Assessment of Vietnam, released in May, acknowledged Vietnam’s progress in converting wealth into well-being, ranking it fourth out of 149 countries assessed.
“With GDP per capita (based on purchasing-power parity) of about $5,200, Vietnam has a well-being level that would be expected of a country with GDP per capita of more than $10,000 - a clear indicator that the country has successfully harnessed limited resources for the good of its citizens,” according to BCG’s Lotus Nation: Sustaining Vietnam’s Impressive Gains in Well-Being report, released in March.
September 2016 India
'Press 1 for child labor': Garment workers use cellphones to report abuses
MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Textile workers from Bangladesh to Turkey are using cellphones to report child labor, delayed wages and trafficking - a trend rights groups say shows the promise of technology in tackling abuses in the garment industry.
Two mobile services, both by U.S.-based companies, encourage workers to call toll-free numbers to anonymously log violations they see around them.
The idea is to give big brands early warning of problems at the furthest ends of their supply chains as they seek to comply with tougher legislation against labor exploitation and modern slavery.
"One of the big challenges for companies in locations far from their suppliers is: How do you hear from workers directly?" said Sarah Labowitz, co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the NYC Stern School of Business in New York.
"When it comes to issues such as discrimination, harassment and abuse, workers have a role in flagging these problems. And as with a lot of social problems, we often look to technology for solutions," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The Power of Individual Choices
We’ve been told recently that the Fairtrade premium paid directly to the farmers because of your purchases (at T&N alone) is pushing up near $9,000 #. The premium is paid at around $.20 per pound to every producer group. It is set aside to be spent by the community as they determine.
Going on current costs in the developing world this equates to the the building of a dispensary or classroom or the digging of 6 wells or establishing 15 toilets or 20 milking goats. All of these are examples of the great value you have given to these people. What’s more this is completely separate to the standard fair price that they are paid for their coffee. So Fairtrade goes way beyond simply justice in trade right to great development in the community.
#This figure has come from our coffee sales alone. When combined with our tea, cocoa and chocolate sales it would be at least doubled.
A Voice for Tea Workers in Sri Lanka March 15'
Tea is an essential part of the economy in Sri Lanka employing over a million people. Recently, effects of soil erosion, climate change, and the rights of workers have pushed sustainability to the forefront. However at Stassen Bio Estate, sustainability is not a trend, but an integral way of life;a focus since 1992, when Stassen Bio Estate decided to become a Fairtrade certified plantation.
Prior to Fairtrade’s involvement, Rajaratnam Gnanasekeran, manager of one of the Stassen Estates and Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Fairtrade producer association, described an environment where the workers operated under both fear and obligation. Their voice remained largely unheard, resulting in a disconnect between the needs of the workers and the management’s objectives.....
The following 5 stories come from the World Fair Trade Organisation website and give a great insight into the difference fair trade can make on the ground. July 2015
Angelika Rauben from WomenCraft, Tanzania
“Baskets guarantee results.”
Joining WomenCraft has changed Angelika Rauben’s life. Angelika, who comes from Nyakiziba village in Tanzania and currently the chair of the organisation’s Artisan Advisory Council, had only a few years of schooling. However, limited education does not stop her from doing things that she likes. Today, she is adept in using iPad Mini for marketing their products. According to a WomenCraft staff, when Angelika started taking photos of their products and promoting them, their sales had increased since then.
“Since I started to weave I have had amazing development,” says Angelika. “Before I had no house. Now, I am living in my own house. I am engaged in livestock raising and my children study. We have enough clothes and I eat three meals per day.”
Before WomenCraft, Angelika helped bring income to the family through farming, and still had difficulties providing food for a family of seven. Back then, she had no economic independence, and erratic weather conditions greatly affected their income from farming. Now, she can make her own purchases, even hired someone to cultivate their crops. She has more time to weave, to take care of her children, and pursue other income generating activities.
Angelika is a natural leader. She works tirelessly among artisans and staff to ensure other women artisans in the organisation can benefit from their participation. Working in Fair Trade she was able to develop her leadership skills and to become a model for other women in her community.
Arshida and Jasmina from the Craft resource Centre West Bengal, India
Tehatta is a remote Indian village, and mainly an Islamic community. Most villagers are traditional and engaged in embroidery production. According to one tradition, a female child is expected to marry at a very young age, and cannot choose her husband. Two young women in the village challenged this tradition. Arshida Khatoon (20) and Jasmina Khatoon (22) are still not married by choice.
“My parents wanted me to get married at a very early age to a man of their choice but as an abled, independent adult I want to take my life’s decisions,” says Jasmina.
“We want all women to be self-sufficient and live a life full of dignity,” adds Arshida.
In this part of the world, knowledge about needle embroideries has been transmitted from one generation to the next. Despite the fact that they have never been trained, Arshida and Jasmina are very talented embroiderers of Craft Resource Center (CRC Exports). Today, they are earning US$113 a month, which is 31% higher than the West Bengal minimum wage of US$86.
Jasmina uses this money to support her father, and to finance her sister’s studies, an ambition she had and wanted to see it fulfilled in her sister.
Arshida is economically independent, and likes it this way. She spends her income for her needs, and saves the rest for the future.
María Sosof Ixbalán from the Cojolya Association, Santiago, Chile
“When I joined Cojolya, things began to change slowly… now, I have a steady income source,” says María Sosof Ixbalán.
Maria would like to share the message that everybody has skills and should be proud the work he or she can accomplish. Her story is an example of how a woman can improve her life given the chance to fulfil her talents.
María is one of the expert backstrap weavers of Cojolya Association, an organisation working with Maya artisans in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala since 1983. The encounter with Petronila Sojuel, a weaver at the Cojolya Association, was a turning point in María’s life. Petronila helped her to become a member in the association, where Maria was taught how to weave.
María’s message to other women: “Each of us has abilities that God has given us. We shouldn’t be weak. There are people that value our work, even though many of us didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, but we have a skill and a specialty in our hands to create something that others can’t. We must feel proud of our work and of being women.”
The women weavers of Cojolya are experts in backstrap loom technique. Due to lower orders from buyers, María and other weavers received further training, and were taught on how to diversify their backstrap loom designs to meet market demands.
Maria produces for her own business. She makes typical fabrics used to make güipiles (blouses), shawls, napkins, pants and traditional shirts. For Cojolya, she produces cotton fabrics, scarves, and shawls.
Shabana Nasim and Sagarica from Sasha, Kolkata, India
Shabana Nasim comes from Calcutta, India. She encourages women in her local community to take active economic role by joining the Sasha producer community, an Indian Fair Trade organisation. Shabana is currently involved in organising her community to get them a regular income through work. She experienced objections from the community, but Shabana is happy to say that they “have managed to weather the initial storm.” She thanks also men of their community for their help.
The mother of Shabana taught her the art of tailoring. She is now sharing this knowledge to other women. She has successfully helped other women, and advocates for women empowerment in the area.
Sagarica is another Indian tailor woman from West Bengal. Like Shabana, she has also fought against traditional roles in her community. She started her own business, and faced the challenges in the market. Later she took up embroidery orders from a local organisation, that was immensely impressed by her work. Her talent has enabled her to become one of the best producers of Sasha.
In 2003, thanks to her experience and skills, she formed her own organisation whose mission is to help women. Her organisation is now working with women in nearby communities. Sagarica tells women to engage in active role, especially economic activities. She also encourages men to become part of her tailor shop, and to champion gender equality.
Mervat From Fair Trade Egypt, Giza, Egypt
Mervat lives in a poor village of Mottamedya, in the province of Giza. The province is one of the marginalised regions in Egypt, but Mervat’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to the right track. She learned the art of embroidery by herself, and when she noticed that there was a market for dolls she launched her business.
Five years ago she shared her project with Fair Trade Egypt. Since then they have supported her, especially during the Egyptian uprising. She admits that the collaboration with Fair Trade Egypt improved her economic situation and her professional skills.
Thanks to Fair Trade Egypt and its partner Mottamedya Women’s Association, Mervat runs a profitable activity and offers a a job to 15 women of her community. When she started the dolls were manually made: later she bought a machine that allowed her to produce a greater number of handicrafts and satisfy a greater number of customers. Mervat is also engaged in the organisation of medical convoys in Mottamedya and invites more women to join the same activity.
Work can positively change the mindset of women, said Mervat. She believes that women should give their contribution to the house income as they could provide better opportunities for their children and better food for the whole family.
Taken from this page http://wfto.com/news/women-change-international-womens-day-special
July 14 Nairobi Kenya
Runaways to runway: ‘Ethical’ fashion changing lives of Africa’s poor
NAIROBI - The muddy streets of Kenya's crowded Korogocho slums are a far cry from the fashion boutiques of Paris, Milan, New York or London.
But beneath a tin roof, workers from some of the country's poorest communities sew buttons and stitch cloth for top international designers, part of a not-for-profit "ethical fashion" project.
"Before Ethical Fashion, I couldn't educate my children," said Lucy, sitting in a circle of women, needles in hand as they deftly sew white seed beads to the surface of smooth, chocolate-coloured leather.
"But now I can educate them, and provide for them anything they need," said the mother of four, in her late 30s.
From Korogocho, accessories like the cuffs the women sew are sold in high-end international boutiques, stamped with the labels of international fashion houses like Vivienne Westwood, Fendi and Stella McCartney.
It is part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), a project built on a model of "mutual benefit" that aims to support poor communities by linking them up with fashion houses and distributors.
Workers on the scheme—a member of the Fair Labor Association—would take months to earn enough to buy some of these luxury goods, which sell for hundreds of dollars on the high street.
But conditions are very far from the sweatshops that muddy some fashion brands, with the UN-backed scheme providing decent working conditions, training and—perhaps the clearest sign of its success—people queueing up to join looking for work.
Organizers say some 90 percent of workers in Kenya have improved their homes, and almost 85 percent now provide better food for their families
02 September 2014 Global
Continued 15% growth in the market, more support and services for farmers and workers.
Shoppers continue to reach for FAIRTRADE Mark labelled 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 €5.5 billion (US$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 €300 million ($426m) 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 €650 million following strong 23% annual growth. http://www.fairtrade.net/single-view+M5c994f1f06a.html?&L=title%3Dopens
September 14 Global
The World Fair Trade Product Label proves fashion is a force for change
02 September 2014
CULEMBORG, 1 SEPTEMBER 2014 - 24th April 2014 was the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory building collapse that shook the fashion industry. This autumn is the first anniversary of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) Product Label, which is only awarded to companies, like fashion brands People Tree and Pachacuti, who are 100% Fair Trade, dedicated to a transparent and accountable supply chain.
The WFTO Product Label guarantees that practices across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standards, a set of compliance criteria based on the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, covering fair wages, working conditions, transparency, capacity building, environmental best practice, gender equality and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. The Product Label also symbolises the fight against poverty, inequality and trade injustices. It sets the standards for conventional fashion companies to improve their supply chains.
May 14, Paraguay
Citizens' Cane: Farmers Open the Door to Their Own Sugar Mill
Fairtrade sugar farmers from the remote Manduvira Cooperative in western Paraguay are celebrating an extraordinary achievement – the ribbon-cutting of the world’s first producer-owned Fairtrade organic sugar mill.
Manduvira’s new mill will be a boon for the 1,750 member-strong farmers’ organization, which will no longer have to pay to rental and transport costs to another mill, 100 km away along dirt roads. This $15 million project was funded through a combination of national and international loans, contributions from the Fairtrade Premium, and the Fairtrade Access Fund.
“This is what we want to see - producers who think big,” said Gustavo Leite, Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade, as he congratulated the producers and cooperative leaders.
Paraguay’s Vice President, John Eudes Afara Maciel, joined Leite and other government ministers and sugar farmers at the launch of the venture on April 24th. The mill has the capacity to process 200,000 MT of organic sugar cane a year – producing 20,000MT of sugar. This figure could potentially treble in the years to come. A profit of $1 million is predicted for the first year.
July 14, West Africa
Fairtrade Cocoa Farmers Investing in Change: New Report on Fairtrade Cocoa in West Africa
06 June 2014
Fairtrade cocoa farmers in West Africa are investing in their farms, crop infrastructure and communities – but they need deeper, long-term partnerships to drive change. Thus concludes a new report ‘Fairtrade Cocoa in West Africa’ released today by Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Africa.
The report reveals Fairtrade certified cocoa farmer organizations chose to spend 36% of their Fairtrade Premium on projects to increase the productivity of members’ farms and the quality of their cocoa – far above Fairtrade International’s suggested 25% minimum. Fairtrade provides defined premiums of US$200 per tonne paid directly to farmers' organizations and managed at the sole discretion of farmers via their general assembly.
ECOOKIM cooperative tackled the issue of moulding cocoa by investing their Fairtrade Premium in training for members on Good Agricultural Practices including fermentation and drying processes, in storage warehouses and in upgraded drying racks. Nine in ten of their members now deliver cocoa of the quality for the international market.
“When farmers are strong and organized, when we have income and investment, we solve problems,” says Chief Adam Tampuri, Chair of Fairtrade Africa.
Farmers’ organizations spent 21% on other collective projects, including community projects, direct farmer benefits, and cooperative strengthening. CANN cooperative rebuilt two primary schools that had been lying in ruins – now 200 students attend at one site alone.