It’s Fairtrade Fortnight and in today’s blog we’re bringing you stories about the producers, farmers and workers behind Fairtrade products!
Justine Watalunga, Organic Coffee Farmer in Uganda
‘The Fairtrade premium is like a miracle to us, it comes directly into our hands. It is an acknowledgement of our work, of what we are capable of and who we are. It is so important to us, thank you!’
Justine is a busy mother of 6, and also cares for 4 orphaned children from the local village. When she’s not tending to her children or the coffee harvest she is busy running the local orphanage which houses children with AIDS from the local community. As a member of the Gumutindo co-operative Justine has benefits from the Fairtrade Premium as well as any excess income generated from coffee sales. This has enabled her to become a certified organic coffee farmer, helping to increase her income and farm in an environmentally friendly way. Gumutindo means ‘excellent quality’ in Justine’s local language, and that is certainly guaranteed by all of the cooperative’s producers!
Vinay Deviah, manager of Thiashola Tea Estate, India
‘We were keen to join Fairtrade as a means of giving something back to our workers. The Fairtrade Premium is a means of empowering workers and is considered a goodwill gesture to strengthen the good relationship that exists.’
Vinay is a trained mechanical engineer and previously worked in the tea industry for two and a half years as a tea broker and tea taster. At Thiashola he supervises and checks the quality of plucking, spraying and weeding in the tea fields, as well as recording the volumes of green leaf plucked and the fields sprayed. As a Fairtrade tea producer Thiashola has been able to use the Fairtrade Premium to fund projects coordinated by a committee of elected workers’ representatives, for example increasing access to medical facilities including specialists such as gynaecologists, and subsidising commercial fuels to free up time taken to gather firewood.
Enjoy some Clipper Organic Earl Grey to get a taste of Thiashola’s tea leaves!
Foncho Cantillo, banana farmer in Northern Colombia.
‘We experience very difficult times when we weren’t in Fairtrade. It was very worrying to have children and know that you couldn’t provide the opportunity for the life they deserve.’
Foncho started farming bananas at 10 years old on his father’s small one hectare farm, which he has now inherited. Despite running the family business Foncho is working hard to provide his family with new opportunities and starts his day by taking his oldest daughter to university at 5 am before heading onto the farm where he works until 5 or 6pm every day. As a member of Coobafrio Co-operative (Riofrio Banana Co-operative) Foncho is able to unite with other farmers to negotiate better prices with their buyers. The cooperative uses its Fairtrade premium to subsidised fertilisers and improve farmers’ technical knowledge, and its members report an average of 35% increase in thier incomes since their co-operative was Fairtrade certified. Foncho is able to get a fair price for his produce and support his children through their education through the stability of his cooperative.
Fairtrade bananas are readily available from your local supermarket!
For more stories on Fairtrade workers and producers from around the world visit the Farmers and Workers section on the Fairtrade website.