Fairtrade is an active game changer for farmers, producers and workers, enabling them to move up the value chain, organize, build stronger businesses and fairer workplaces, and gain access to new markets and fairer finance.
Strong, viable small producer organizations (SPOs) are essential to ensure sustainable futures for farmers, food security and an end to poverty, as foreseen in Goal 2 of the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
To improve our support for SPOs, we are conducting research to understand what factors contribute to or obstruct their development. The findings, together with our experience supporting producers, will inform guidance, tools, and training for SPOs to address issues such as poor governance, lack of financial literacy and weak business management. This will enable them to maximize their benefits from Fairtrade through improved planning, strategic use of the Fairtrade Premium, and better access to finance.
We encourage cooperatives that are investing Fairtrade Premium funds in strengthening their organizations. Coffee Cooperative Capucas Limitada (COCAFCAL) was recognized at the 2015 Fairtrade Awards for supporting sustainable development benefitting over 5,000 people in and around Las Capucas in northwest Honduras through the use of their Fairtrade Premium.
We are reviewing the Standard for Fresh Fruit for Small Producer Organizations to strengthen the position of workers on banana farms in Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
Fairtrade’s work on living wages aims to push up wage levels in places where minimum wages are below what workers require for a decent standard of living. We have already set living wage benchmarks in five countries with more in the pipeline in 2016.
With Oxfam, the Ethical Tea Partnership and local industry we have agreed a plan aimed at securing a living wage for tea workers in Malawi. In Kenya and Ethiopia we facilitated discussions between producers, trade unions and civil society about ways to improve wage levels on flower plantations.
At the ILO’s 2016 conference on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, Fairtrade’s Senior Advisor on Workers’ Rights and Trade Union Relations addressed the need for social and economic justice in global trade. Read his statement here (PDF)
We supported thousands of migrant banana workers in the Dominican Republic to register for work permits and gain legal status. They previously struggled to get work visas, which meant they could be paid less than the minimum wage and didn’t receive social security. There’s still a lot of work to be done to support these workers and Fairtrade continues to advocate for their rights.
A pilot project in Peru to improve the relationships between farm owners and their temporary workers is bearing fruit and providing lessons for other regions.