Category Archives: UK News

Steering Group Members invited to Costa Rica Orchard Festival 9th February 2022 at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

Steering Group Chairman, Mike King, and Group Member Jhon Munoz were invited by the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the UK to the official opening of the Costa Rican Orchid Festival month.  The orchids, some of the 1600 that  were native to Coast Rica, were stunning. It was a chance to renew our acquaintance with Ambassador Ortiz as well as brief him on our future activities with Grecia and CoopeVictoria.

 

FAIRTRADE AND CLIMATE JUSTICE – Key Facts from the Fairtrade Foundation

Note; This is a reprint of information available on the Fairtrade Foundation website as a PDF.

In 2022 we are continuing to highlight the growing challenges that climate change brings to farmers and workers in the communities Fairtrade works with as COP26 didn’t deliver the change needed to tackle the climate crisis.

The facts are straightforward. Farmers and workers in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, are disproportionately affected by it. The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and agricultural workers in low-income countries worldwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us more than ever how interconnected we are globally. This interconnection is at the very heart of the Fairtrade message and is where your role begins. Farmers need better incomes and financial support to adapt to changing weather patterns and change their farming methods to ensure a low-carbon economy. By choosing Fairtrade, you show solidarity with those on the frontline of the climate crisis. You are part of the Fairtrade movement, and you havethe power to drive long-term change, not only with your shopping choices but with your support in spreading the message.

THE PROBLEM

For generations, the exploitation of people and planet has caused extreme global inequality and a climate emergency. Fairtrade farmers have told us that climate change is their biggest challenge right now.

They are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis in the most climate vulnerable nations. Despite contributing the least to the climate crisis, smallholders in developing countries are disproportionately affected by increasingly frequent weather events, loss of fertile soil and crop diseases. The farmers that Fairtrade works with have seen their crops of coffee, cocoa, honey, and vegetables in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua be completely devastated. At 1.1 degrees, current levels of global heating are causing communities to suffer hurricanes in Central America, floods and landslides in India, sweeping away people’s homes, destroying entire livelihoods in seconds, while swarms of locusts affect East Africa and extreme drought continues in Southern Africa. By 2050 as much as 50 percentof the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable and many cocoa growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – who produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will become too hot to grow the crop.

Farmers have fewer resources to adapt to changes in climate and other stresses they are experiencing every day. Yet we all rely on farmers to produce the food we need for a growing global population. 80 percent of the world’s food comes from 500 million family farms. With the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic, these communities also face rising debts, falling commodity prices and widespread shocks in the global supply chains. These huge challenges, alongside already low incomes, mean these communities are often unable to invest in ways to adapt to the widespread effects of a changing climate, let alone clean energy and climate-smart farming methods needed to protect the planet’s forests and help restore biodiversity.

SUMMARY: Climate change is an immediate threat to farmers’ livelihoods, and to the products we love, like chocolate, coffee and bananas. Unless we clamp down hard on global emissions, we will all suffer. As a matter of justice and a matter of science, the matter of the climate crisis cannot be delayed any longer.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?

The answers to climate change exist already and farmers have a big role to play. Farmers have years of experience stewarding the land they live on; farming communities in climate-vulnerable countries already have the knowledge to create solutions and to protect the ecosystems everybody relies on. What they don’t have is the financial support to make those changes happen. Climate finance and compensation for loss and damage must reach the communities most impacted by climate change who also hold solutions to farm us away from climate catastrophe.

Doing this properly means helping farmers and workers to adapt to the current impacts as well as supporting them to switch to low carbon production and transport. That cannot happen if we’re not prepared to pay for it. We cannot expect – and it is not fair to expect – farmers to absorb the costs of more sustainable methods of farming when they’re often not even able to earn a living income or living wage and cannot even adapt to the challenges they are already seeing, because the price they receive for their produce is far too low. This needs to change – and it needs to change fast. Change by 2050 is too late. The weather is changing now.

Our global trading system is balanced in favour of the powerful few. Wealthy nations have done the most to create the climate crisis. They must deliver on their promise to invest in tackling climate change right now. The G7 summit in June 2021 was a missed opportunity for farmers and the planet.

Political leaders at COP26, despite some new pledges to curb emissions which revise projected temperature rises from 3.0 to 2.4 degrees, were also unable to commit to realistic targets to keep them to 1.5 degrees. Commitments to compensate impacted communities for loss and damage due to extreme weather were also notable in their absence from the final agreement.

At the same time, the prices that businesses pay for the crops behind some of our favourite foods need to increase significantly if farmers are to escape poverty and still have the means to adapt to economic and environmental shocks. Governments must set ambitious, science-based rules and targets that will ensure that the businesses who profit the most from global trade invest in reducing their carbon footprint, and support those experiencing the harshest effects right now. We needbusinesses to go further in committing to fair pricing, long-term partnerships and investment in adaptation with farming communities as well as transparency on carbon emissions and climate risks throughout their supply chains. As global trade changes in ways we could only have imagined before the pandemic, poverty will also continue to be a key contributor to further environmental degradation as farmers are forced to make harder choices.

SUMMARY: Farmers in climate vulnerable countries need empowerment, fair value, fair prices, and fairer trading practices to resource the investment needed for mitigation, adaptation, diversification and resilience in the face of the climate crisis. And we can’t rely on global summits and governments to take action fast enough to solve the climate crisis. Ahead of COP27, we must build pressure on governments to keep 1.5 alive. By doing so, we stand in solidarity with people in climate vulnerable nations who will be most impacted by temperature rises.

HOW DOES CHOOSING FARTRADE SUPPORT FARMERS FACING THE CLIMATE CRISIS NOW?

Fairtrade is about social justice. Poverty, caused in part by decades of chronic underpayment, is a root cause of inability to adapt and mitigate to climate change. Poverty prevents smallholder farmersfrom developing their businesses: this fuels a vicious cycle of low productivity and declining incomes. The less farmers earn, the harder it is to secure good harvests. All this leaves them financially unable

to face up to the challenges of climate change. Choosing Fairtrade means choosing improvements in farmers’ livelihoods with collective strength through co-ops and their bargaining power, the protection of a minimum price and Fairtrade Premiums. More money means more climate resilience into the future.

While the money paid to farmers remains low, they will continue to struggle to cover just their basic human rights; a nutritious diet, their children’s education and family healthcare, let alone find extra funds to pursue climate friendly farming, or to protect themselves and their harvests from extreme weather. In 2019, Fairtrade launched an ambitious new living incomes campaign to lead the way to a sustainable future for cocoa farmers. A living income would provide farmers with a decent standard of living – enough to cover all their cocoa farming costs and enough to cover their basic human rights.

Fairtrade works on many levels to strengthen environmental and climate protection for farmers and workers and is committed to finding new ways to support them with the challenges of climate change. Governments can do much more to incentivise businesses to support farmers with finance, fair prices and other assistance to adapt. The exploitative global trade system continues to give disproportionate power to wealthy nations. It’s time for our politicians to recognise their responsibilities and ensure the investment reaches these communities so that they can deliver the solutions. Fairtrade farmers are already implementing projects on climate change. They are learningto adapt, mitigate and become more resilient, working with specific groups, like youth and women and creating sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. But this can only be sustained and increased by working in partnership with them so that they can invest in the projects, training and technology they need. This is why Fairtrade is engaged at political level and in alliances together with other civil society players for more environmental and climate protection. Politicians must listen to and respect farmers’ expertise, needs and ambitions. The people who produce our food and goods seethe reality of the climate crisis every day – they must take a leading role in deciding how any investment is spent.

SUMMARY: Our trading system is weighted against low-income farmers. The prices paid for the crops behind some of our favourite foods need to increase significantly in order for farmers to escape the cycle of poverty and still have the means to adapt climate emergencies. Now more than ever, they need fair pay, fair prices and fairer trading practices.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Choosing Fairtrade is one simple decision UK shoppers and businesses can make to stand with farmers and workers on the frontline of the climate crisis. Fairtrade works with farmers to strengthen environmental and climate protection, to provide resources, training and knowledge so they can face climate challenges right now.
  • It’s up to all of us – citizens, farmers, workers, businesses, and civil society organisations to come together to play our part in cutting emissions and build pressure for climate promises to be delivered at COP27 next year. Join us in Fairtrade Fortnight 2022 to show support for those who depend on the land – farmers, workers, miners – and join their outraged voices, by sharing their concerns and campaigning to achieve the change we want to see for the planet. Fairtrade Fortnight 2022’s Choose the World you Want festival, will continue to amplify the voices of farmers and workers, the steps they are already taking to fight the climate crisis, and highlight the role of businesses, shoppers, governments and citizens in supporting them to win the fairer future that we all know they deserve.

SUMMARY: Choose Fairtrade this Fairtrade Fortnight and beyond; choose to fight for climate justice, for farmers on the front line of climate change, for our planet and for future generations. Choose the world you w

Core Values

Cooperative Community Shared Values and Member Pioneer promotion events – Fairtrade Fortnight 2022

Nelson Mandela

As Nelson Mandela said “I would have thought that people who subscribe to the same values, who share a common vision & who accept each others integrity have laid the basis for a good relationship.”

Wycombe for Fairtrade is building strong links with the Co-Op Member Pioneer and Community Shared Values division because we have found that we do indeed have shared values when it comes to fair trade.

During Fairtrade Fortnight 2022, the Co-Op is running ‘shared value’ events which reflect the Coop’s huge support for the Fairtrade movement.  These are “in-house” events but Wycombe For Fairtrade have been invited to 3 separate Co-Op store events which are designed to raise the profile of Fairtrade to the public.

Wycombe For Fairtrade have backed up our shared community values with action and our objectives coincide exactly with those of the Co-op.  Members of our steering group have accepted invitations to attend the following events because we think that the Cooperative Stores’ experience, knowledge and resources, could benefit us in ideas to expand our public face and maybe energize us to reach a wider audience.

The event on 21st February 2022 at their “Flagship store” in Battersea is both national and London focused.  It will be attended by Mike King and Tony Thornby of the Wycombe for Fairtrade steering group.  Mike hopes that networking at this event will advance our cause to get Coope Victoria coffee roasted in the UK either for Co-op in-house roasted coffee, or from one of their independent roasters, and to progress the idea producing a Grecia/Wycombe Fairtrade Partnership Town blend in the future.

Bourne End event on 25th February 2022 is a local area promotional Fairtrade Community Shared Values event.  It will be attended by Mike King.

The Reading University event on 28th February 2022 is the regional promotion location for the Southern Counties. Appropriate Coop food supply chain and food purchasing managers will be present to network with. Wycombe for Fairtrade steering group attendees of this event will be Mike King and Sarah Moroz: Sarah did her PhD at Reading University.

Report from SE Regional Fairtrade Campaigner’s Zoom Conference 27th July 2021

Mike and Sheena King attended the online SE Regional Campaigner’s Zoom Conference.

There were some some very interesting and encouraging addresses and information.
Mike and Sheena have summarised the content of the 4 addresses that they listened to and links to these, as PDF document, are below.

The four summaries cover: – 

1). Big Green Week 18-26 September 2021

2). Joanna Pollard – Fairtrade Foundation, National Campaign Council Chairperson address

3). Pauline Tiffen – B2B Business to Business Initiative.

4). Sarah Brazier – Fairtrade Foundation Campaign Manager address.

FairTrade Fortnight 2021

For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often exploited and underpaid.

Farmers and workers in the global south, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, are disproportionately affected. With the emergence of the global COVID pandemic, the challenges that farmers face now are bigger than ever before with falling commodity prices and widespread shocks reverberating along our global supply chains.

To read more about this year’s Fairtrade Foundation initiatives and how you can get involved go to https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get-involved/current-campaigns/fairtrade-fortnight/. Special information for schools can be found at https://schools.fairtrade.org.uk/take-action/fairtrade-fortnight-2021/

Traidcraft Exchange Webinar – Weds 25th Nov 2020

Mike and Sheena King joined over 320 other campaigners and supporters to take part in this very good Traidcraft Exchange Zoom Webinar entitled “Changing Trade and Changing Lives in Challenging Times”.

The five speakers from Traidcraft Exchange basically covered four issues:-

  1. The strategic restructuring of Traidcraft Exchange as a “bottom up”, “grass roots” development charity operating in Africa and S.Asia
  2. The dreadful plight of the garment industry workers during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. A very encouraging symbiotic development project in the coastal belt of Northern Tanzania.
  4. The inescapable link between improving regional rural and urban development has to include measures and policies that address climate change to achieve full social and climate justice.

Read More… (opens a 5 page PDF document)

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 3 of 3

Gloria Maria Talavera Gonzalez. Fairtrade Coffee & Cocoa Farmer & Women’s Coordinator Producer from the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Nicaragua.

She has been farming cocoa and coffee in Corinta Finca for over 25 years. Fairtrade has enabled:-

  • Financing a scholarship for her son to study agricultural engineering in Germany for a year, helping to keep young people involved with the land.
  • Fairtrade provided credit for replacing all her coffee plants when the fungal leaf rust disease (La Roya), decimated her and neighbouring crops in 2013.
  • Her son and daughter help on the plantation at weekends, removing poor quality coffee beans and cocoa pods that not growing well.

Gloria stressed the importance of Fairtrade especially in the areas of:

  1. Developing and spreading women’s gender equality, men and women are paid the same price for their coffee. A separate women’s coffee brand has developed over the last few years called “Sister”.
  2. Through Fairtrade producer cooperatives, larger amounts of coffee and cocoa can be exported, on newly surfaced roads, partly paid for by the Fairtrade Premium.
  3. The organic coffee and cocoa meet the exacting Fairtrade Certificate Standards and requirements which are regularly inspected and so have consumer confidence.
  4. Agricultural technicians and agronomists supervise the Cooperatives’ plantations.
  5. SOPPEXCCA’s farmers work with the environment. They are encouraged to grow other crops, both as for healthy consumption, but also for selling in local markets and even exporting. Bananas, orchard fruit, maize and organic honey, are crucial cash crops as well as providing vital vitamins for families and for food security.
  6. Nicaragua is well off for water and forests, but climate change of just a few degrees can have a dramatic impact on coffee production, the main cash crop. Fortunately, cocoa grows well in the fertile, volcanic soil and fills in most of the income gap. Plots devoted to bananas, mangoes, and other diversified fruit provide more than self-sufficiency – diverse income streams. Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree.
  7. A group of enterprising women, using part of the Fairtrade Premium have utilized local organic beekeeping to combine the honey with the maize to produce a grain energy bar. They were aided by marketing help from a female entrepreneur in Ireland who advised on marketing. These energy bars are also sold in their plantation cafe. Unsold fruit along with washed coffee sludge is dried and bagged for organic fertilizer for Cooperative members.
  8. Fairtrade Premiums have been invested in community health projects over the years, including a free health clinic for workers and regular cancer checks.
  9. A holistic approach is adopted with guaranteed Fairtrade coffee and cocoa prices ironing out fluctuations in world prices and allowing farmers to plan for the future for cash crops. The Fairtrade Premium also encourages fledgling income diversity and local ripple effect industries to provide new revenue streams, some of which are very intuitive.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade     

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 2 of 3

Louise Whitaker; Group Support Manager, Bewley’s UK

Visit to the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative in Nicaragua and Unlocking the power of Women in Coffee.

Louise began her presentation by stating that over 125 million people in 70 countries worldwide rely on coffee as the main cash crop. However, the coffee plant does not like quick changes in growing conditions and is largely intolerant of progressive temperature increases. Coffee is also very labour intensive and prone to pests and fungal diseases. Coffee seedlings take 4 to 5 years to produce in nurseries before any coffee cherries grow on the bush. The first crop is discarded before the best cherries mature. When ripe, the cherries are hand-picked, sorted, and then de-pulped to obtain the two green coffee beans in each cherry. The green coffee beans are then place in the sun to dry for 3 – 7 days and  turned regularly.

Women provide much of the labour in what are often male-dominated societies, as well as looking after the children, cooking, collecting water, shopping, or running small businesses in local markets

Louise referred to a newly published ICO document examining gender equality and climate change.

When women have access to finance, credit, training, and are involved in the decision making processes of the cooperative, women tend to save more money than men as well as direct more of that finance to providing for the family.

Members of the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative pay to be part of the Fairtrade auditing scheme to have the certification logo on their coffee and cocoa products. Fairtrade membership entitlements include:-

  • Gender equality
  • Equal pay for men and women
  • One member one vote on business and community project decisions
  • Access to credit – (a holistic approach is taken)
  • Women managers and leaders act as “role models” in the cooperative expanding the narrative
  • Money provides for school bags, paper, pens,  and child uniforms even though state education is free
  • Children can then aspire to colleges and universities for professional training
  • With credit, women can start their own coffee or small businesses.

e.g. women collect organic honey from bees and combine this with home grown maize to produce energy bars, which are sold locally in markets, shops and even exported

  • This in turn provides access to more credit e.g. $10,000 for marketing of biscuits and energy bars. A wheel begins to role and gather pace, so creating a new mini-enterprise

Positive factors

There is a clear role for women in businesses as well as community, empowering and enhancing their status, closing the gender gap. Women work hard in the production of coffee but can create quite innovative enterprises which diversify the economy based on local conditions and advantages. Women understand the relationship of their work with the land and the environment and can help fight climate change.

During her 2018 visit to SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Louise met a number of women with interesting stories to tell about improving their economic opportunities  as well social and community benefits, once they have access to credit, they become entrepreneurs and role models. Money has also come from Melissa Gates and the Hilary Clinton Foundations.

Greta: 90% of her income was directed to her family, improving diet, health and education opportunities. She works in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Farmers would lose money if their coffee were not sold under Fairtrade terms. Being involved in both business and community decision making means inclusion and empowerment for women in SOPPEXCCA. The current General manager of the cooperative is Fatima Ismael, who is responsible for over 800 individual coffee farmers.

Rosa: listed a number of advantages since she became a smallholder. Land can now be registered in a woman’s name, and encourages economic diversity and the setting up of micro-businesses apart from growing the cash crop – coffee. Gender equality is established as well as young people can see the improvements and realize that farming can offer a living wage and a future.

Maxima: Her coffee is sold under the Women’s coffee label – “Sisters. The Fairtrade money earned is allocated to school equipment for her children. With the low coffee prices, she has stated growing cocoa as a main cash crop. Cocoa benefits include:-

  • Stable higher income than coffee and is viewed as a “buffer” crop
  • Grows all the year round
  • Provides more money out of the coffee harvest season
  • Has started to make her own chocolate bars
  • Cocoa grows well at lower levels on land formally used for coffee production
  • She is seen as a role model for other female producers
  • Mutual skill sharing and utilizing cross-product marketing.

      Myrtle: She established a small cafe on her coffee growing land and taught herself to become a     barista by studying at weekends.

Climate change has a human cost as well as an immediate environmental crop.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade     

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 1 of 3

Barney Smyth; Acting Senior Partnership Manager, Fairtrade Foundation. 1.45 pm.

Explored 2 Questions about Fairtrade.

What makes Fairtrade certification unique?

Why do Fairtrade producers, buyers and end consumers have faith in the Fairtrade logo.

  1. Minimum price for a product e.g. coffee is paid to producers which irons out the world market price peaks and troughs. Eliminating these price fluctuations means that producers can plan ahead, and Fairtrade buyers know that coffee has been grown on Fairtrade terms. Currently Fairtrade farmers are paid $1.40 per pound of coffee. The current world price is between $1.00 and $1.20. This minimum price guarantee is paid when coffee prices rise. The Fairtade price is always 20 cents above the global coffee price. This Fairtrade price covers the costs of sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
  2. Fairtrade farmers and producers receive an additional Fairtrade Premium on top of the selling price. This is usually another 1% of the value of the products. The producer cooperative workers, who know their own needs, can then decide to allocate this funding to:
    – social projects
    – improving community infrastructure
    – Investing in a health centre
    – buying in training and education
    – building schools
    – improving their businesses with new equipment
    – Workers are thus empowered and can take control of their own livelihoods.
  3. The Fairtrade logo is a recognised kitemark and reflects uniform assessment by FLOCERT, the independent WFTO body that assesses farmers; producers; suppliers; traders; and wholesalers that rigorous standards have been met and that regular inspections are made to trace and prove product traceability.

Barney Smith presented some interesting Fairtrade Foundation Statistics –

Fairtrade has been going for over 25years
– 90% of people in the UK recognize the Fairtrade logo
– 87% of people in the UK trust the logo
– 76% of people in the UK care about the third party/independent certification process
– 76% of people in the UK care about Fairtrade producers and farmers
– 76% of people in the UK actively seek and choose Fairtrade products

Why Fairtrade makes such a big difference?

  • Producers and farmers have a guaranteed income
  • They have decent working conditions
  • There is no child or forced labour
  • Men and women receive equal pay, empowering both genders
  • Fairtrade suppliers establish long-term working relationships with producer cooperatives
  • There are social, economic, and environmental benefits of belonging to a Fairtrade cooperative
  • The cost of belonging Fairtrade certified cooperative includes many other benefits such as technical and agricultural training  for farmers and a chance to belong to network groups

Fairtrade Coffee Cooperative Statistics 2019

  • There are 582 Fairtrade coffee cooperatives located in Latin America, Africa, and SE Asia
  • 762,000 farmers growing and selling Fairtrade coffee.
  • 86% of all Fairtrade coffee originates from Central and South America
  • Fairtrade coffee production is worth in excess of 84 million Euros.
  • 18% of Fairtrade coffee growers are women.

In a short accompanying video, one coffee grower stated that “Coffee is our life”, and more farmers need to sell coffee on Fairtrade terms where the environmental costs are factored in to the end price. The guaranteed price of Fairtrade coffee irons out the huge fluctuations in the market price.

“Climate change is a huge threat to livelihoods” but that farmers will have to adapt.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade