Fairtrade Stories - changing lives
One of the important elements of Fairtrade is the Fairtrade Premium. Farmers accredited to the Fairtrade Foundation receive a premium, on top of their stable wages, which can be invested back into their community. How the premium is spent is usually decided by the farmers’ co-operative and can be anything that is seen to improve the life of the workers or the efficiency of their businesses.
At the Fairtrade Stories event, organised by Fairtrade Hay as part of Fairtrade Fortnight, we heard from Allan Saidi, a Malawian sugar farmer. His co-operative has been Fairtrade certified since 2002 and in that time the Premium has been put to good use. Two trucks and two tractors have been purchased, allowing for better access to the sugar farms and distribution of fertilisers. The trucks also play an important role in transporting those in need, particularly pregnant women, to hospital. The village has a new health clinic and school, bore holes have been drilled to provide access to clean water (preventing water collection in perilous rivers filled with crocodiles), new homes have been built and a community hall is in progress. All of these infrastructure improvements have led to better lives for the workers and their families and better prospects for the future.
Oliver Balch also spoke at the event, following a recent visit to coffee and sesame seed co-operatives in Nicaragua. Whilst the Premium had played a role there, he felt that the efficiencies in productivity and quality that the various fair trade marks require were also a great benefit. Those working in fair trade co-ops clearly had a better quality of life and had been lifted out of poverty by the stability and increased income that fair trade offers.
It was a fascinating evening, and a reminder that we need to continue to buy Fairtrade products, spread the word and enable more and more farmers like Allan to benefit.
Allan Saidi and Jo Eliot, chair of Fairtrade Hay