We are happy to send you the fourth edition of the FLO electronic newsletter. In this issue you will read about FLO compliance with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the new Fairtrade Minimum Prices for tea. As well, you will get a more in-depth look at the work of Mr. Raymond Kimaro, Chairman of the African Fair Trade Network (AFN) and the Fairtrade Certified Cotton market. In our producer section, we have an interview with Tadesse Meskala, the Manager of Oromia Coffee Cooperative in Ethiopia and main protagonist of the movie Black Gold. And, as always, we inform you about the latest promotional campaigns in countries where Fairtrade is active. We hope you will enjoy reading and will recommend our newsletter to your friends and colleagues who are also concerned with Fairtrade issues.
FLO International Editorial Team
Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International and six other non-profit organisations have reached the highest standards for defining credible behaviour in ethical trade by complying with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards.
The ISEAL Code of Good Practice is the international reference for setting credible voluntary social and environmental standards. It is referenced by a range of governmental and intergovernmental guidelines as the measure of credibility for voluntary social and environmental standards. Click here if you want to read more about FLO compliance with the ISEAL Code.
During FLO's last General Assembly held on 25 May 2007, the three Producer Networks, AFN (African Fairtrade Network), CLAC (Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Comercio Justo), and NAP (Network of Asian Producers) officially became full members of FLO. The role of the producers networks is crucial: they represent the interests of Fairtrade producers in their regions within the FLO system. Raymond Kimaro is the Chairman of the African Fairtrade Network (AFN). Mr. Kimaro is also the General Manager of Kilimanjaro Native Co-operative Union , one of Tanzania's largest Fairtrade Certified coffee cooperatives. Through his position at AFN and at KNCU, Mr. Kimaro is one of the most acknowledge person on Fairtrade issues in Africa. FLO Communications Team had the opportunity to interview him to find out about AFN work, his experience and views on the future of Fairtrade on the continent.
FLO: Since the creation of AFN in March 2004 how has the network developed?
RK: AFN major milestones since its formal establishment in 2004 are the development of a constitution and the official registration of the network in 2006.
We have also been able to advance tremendously in decentralizing the network in order to make it effectively responsive to members’ needs. In that sense, AFN has successfully established Regional Fairtrade Networks for West, Eastern and Southern Africa. As a consequence of this process, the frequency of communication and meetings among our members has improved tremendously over the period.
AFN has also developed strategic and business plans through which AFN potential, direction, focus and relationships are defined more clearly. With strategic and business plans we have also been able to improve cooperation with important partners. This has lead to a growing presence of AFN representatives in International Fair Trade organizations (FLO, the Fairtrade Foundation, Café Direct etc). Without forgetting that in May 2007, AFN became a FLO member.
The growing presence and influence of AFN means two fundamental things: Increased representation and participation of African producers in influencing decisions in Fair Trade. And second, our people are more and more networking, discussing and presenting (in one voice) decisions on issues of significance to fair trade.
FLO: As a network you represent producers in Africa. What are your other tasks?
RK: AFN is a platform through which member producers exchange Fair Trade experiences, learn from each other, discuss Fair Trade issues and present them as a one. Access for our producers to international business information also keeps on growing as has the number of members which is now estimated to be over 180.
FLO: Do you collaborate with the other Fairtrade Producer Networks on other continents?
RK: As networks of disadvantaged producers in the third world we meet frequently to exchange on issues of common interest. Through our networks we have met in organized meetings and we also share information through the internet.
FLO: How many producer organisations are members of the network at the moment? What types of products?
RK: Currently we have over 180 producer organizations in different parts of Africa. They produce a broad variety of Fairtrade Certified products across the continent. Some of these products are: coffee, tea, bananas, flowers, cocoa, nut oil seeds, sugar cane and rice.
FLO: In your opinion what is the future of Fairtrade for Africa?
RK: As long as there are disadvantaged producers through unfair trading relations I am confident that Fair Trade will continue to be relevant. This coincides well with the AFN vision of a world free from poverty which has afflicted our people through centuries of unbalanced world trade relations.
FLO: What are the main challenges for producers in Africa? How can Fairtrade help them?
RK: The major challenge is poverty in its vicious cycle. Our people continue to loose out for as long as the fair trade markets remain small. This in turn poses a real serious challenge as the capacity to invest remains low. So it is crucial to grow the Fairtrade market in order for producers to benefit more.
On the other hand, the participation of producers in setting Fairtrade standards needs to be improved so that such standards are made in the local African context. African producers, like their counterparts in other countries of the third world are not yet participating effectively in decision making at international Fairtrade bodies. To increase producer participation at that level is therefore critical.
FLO: Thank you for your time and sharing your expertise!
On October 5-7, 2007, over 55 Fairtrade volunteers hailing from over 13 countries gathered in Helsinki on the island of Suomenlinna to exchange views on Fairtrade volunteerism and discuss future cooperation in an international context. The meeting, which was the first of its kind, was organized by Pro Fair Trade Finland, a Finnish volunteer organization. “The goal is to bring Fairtrade volunteers to share ideas and materials in order to build together a real network” explains Sini Maury, chair of Pro Fair Trade Finland.
The 3-day seminar included presentations by Miles Litvinoff, co-author of the book “50 reasons to buy Fairtrade” and by Barbara Fiorito Chair of the Board of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International. Several workshops were also organized over the course of the seminar, including sessions on topics such as the use of the internet as a tool for networking, pedagogical tips on how to address Fairtrade and creative tools for lobbying. "The event was a unique opportunity to connect and network with other Fairtrade enthusiasts” explains Vincent Lagacé, a Canadian participant, “volunteers participating at the seminar bring in a wealth of experience in Fairtrade campaigning and there’s much to be learn by sharing views, goals and discussing our common challenges”.
The event, which was hailed as a success by participants and organizers alike, concluded with the launch of a new Fairtrade Action website (http://www.fairtradeaction.net/) and a discussion on future steps for international coordination.
From February, 1st, 2008, the first Fairtrade Minimum Prices for tea will be integrated into the Fairtrade Standards.
Tea is one of Fairtrade’s most diverse products, with grades and types of tea ranging from the fine-grade mass-market teas that are used in tea-bags to high quality specialty leaf and organic teas. The market prices for tea vary tremendously, not just according to grade and type, but also depending on what production methods are used and the geographical origin of the tea. The agreement to implement Minimum Prices for such a complex product represents a major achievement for FLO, and we are grateful to the many tea producers, traders, and labeling initiatives who have worked with us over many months in support of this project. Please click here to read more.
Thanks to an increased number of consumers world-wide demanding products made out of Fairtrade Certified Cotton, 2007 is the year that the Fairtrade Certified Cotton market has taken off in leaps and bounds. The first sweep of countries to offer Fairtrade Certified Cotton products were France, UK, Australia and New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Luxemburg and Switzerland. In 2007 Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and Norway introduced Fairtrade Certified Cotton to their consumers. Both the Netherlands and Japan will be launching Fairtrade Certified Cotton onto their markets in May of 2008.
Products that are made out of Fairtrade Certified Cotton vary widely and the selection continues to diversify. In France, where Fairtrade Certified Cotton was a pilot project as early as 2005, consumers can buy toys, clothing and gifts made out of Fairtrade Certified Cottons. Products that are available in most of the countries where Fairtrade Certified Cotton has been launched range from towels and jeans to bed linens and household items. In some countries, such as the UK and Ireland, big retailers are coming out with their own speciality brands using Fairtrade Certified Cotton. In Denmark there will soon be a retailer selling products made of Fairtrade Certified Cotton world-wide. FLO developed Fairtrade Standards for cotton in 2005 and estimates that in 2007 over 30.000 farmers benefit from the initiative. At the moment there are 17 Fairtrade Certified Cotton producer organizations. FLO International works with cotton producer organizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As many as 100 million rural households are involved in cotton production and some of the world's poorest countries are highly dependent on cotton production and exports. Fairtrade Certified Cotton producers can be found in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, India, Mali, Peru and Senegal. The Standards Unit at FLO is currently working on pricing for South America, Africa, and Southern Asia.
According to staff members of FLO’s Producer Business Unit, who are regularly in the field visiting Fairtrade cotton farmers, all Fairtrade Certified Cotton producers are selling onto the Fairtrade market. As is seen by the different Labelling Initiatives launching cotton, the demand for Fairtrade Certified Cotton is growing. The challenge, however, is that there is no clear commitment from traders to the producers and farmers. It is still a risk for a farmer in India or Senegal to increase his production of cotton without the reassurance that the Fairtrade Certified traders are going to buy their harvests. The Fairtrade Premium and the Fairtrade Minimum Prices received by Fairtrade Certified Cotton producers is being used in a variety of ways to improve the lives of farmers and their families. For example in India the Fairtrade Premium is allowing farmers to invest in agricultural tools, community halls, shared motorbikes for the community, group health insurances and educational scholarships. In Senegal and Mali the Fairtrade Premium is often used for the building of schools and warehouses.
It was as early as 2003 That FLO and its members saw a need to have Fairtrade Standards for cotton. Now, at the end of 2007, with the growing consumer demand for textiles and other end products made from Fairtrade Certified Cotton, the Fairtrade Labelling system is on its way to achieving the goal of providing a framework for sustainable development for cotton farmers on three continents.
After months of consultation and research, the review of the Fairtrade Minimum Prices for coffee is coming to an end. All Fairtrade Labelling stakeholders have been consulted and a cost of production study has been commissioned. Based on this input, the FLO Standards Committee will meet on 26 November to make a decision which will then need to be ratified by the FLO Board, the maximum decision-making authority of the organization. The FLO Board is meeting on 29 November in New York. Once approved by the Board, the decision will be published on the FLO website and communicated to all stakeholders via email.
All Fairtrade Standards have been edited to comply with the ISEAL Code of Good practise in Standard Setting. In essence we added a cover page to all standards with information about current and superseded versions and contact points for inquiries. FLO Standards Unit (SU) trusts that our stakeholders will find this useful.
The first conference of Southern African fair trade producers and stakeholders,
which was convened under the auspices of Fair Trade South Africa (FTSA) and the African Fairtrade Network (AFN), took place on the 16th and 17th of October 2007, in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
The aim of the conference was to “establish strong networking links between all the stakeholders in the region, as well as between the various regional bodies” in order to initiate the establishment of the Southern African Fairtrade Network, which is intended to be a chapter of the Africa Fairtrade Network (AFN). "The fair trade concept had developed in a very different way in the south of Africa, and its progress had been “unequal and patchy". Networking is therefore essential for producers to learn from each other and give support where necessary", said Noel Oettle, Chairperson of Fair Trade South Africa at the inauguration of the conference.
On the first day, various Fairtrade Labelling representatives acted as speakers at the conference. Among them were Chris Davis, Policy and Producer Relations at the Fairtrade Foundation UK, Sandra Kruger, South African Liaison Officer from the FLO Producer Business Unit (PBU) and Andreas Kratz, Director of FLO Standards Unit (SU). After the presentations, a panel discussion was held, and participants were able to engage in debate with the presenters.
The second day of the Conference was largely given to group discussions and planning. The participants had the chance to explore in groups the common challenges that fair trade producers and traders face in southern Africa and how these can be addressed. They also shared their thoughts about what they could do for the network.
On the last day, an interim committee for Southern African Fairtrade Network was elected. It was agreed that the committee should have six members (one from each South African country plus an additional co-opted AFN Board member from South Africa). The committee members chosen were Mr. Hwamiridza (Zimbabwe), Barend Salomo (South Africa), Charles Starling (South Africa), Fadson Mandala (Malawi); Noel Oettle (South Africa) Maxwell Mwiinga (Zambia) and Julie Nixon (Swaziland). These nominations were confirmed by the plenary of the conference, as was the proposal that FTSA should serve as the Secretariat to the network.
The full report on the conference is available for download from the webiste of Fair Trade South Africa: http://www.fairtrade.org.za/
With the release of Black Gold, the documentary movie about the insights of the multi-billion dollar coffee industry, Tadesse Meskala, the Manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia, entered the public arena. Black Gold is an eye opening, shocking documentary which shows the long journey of Tadesse to find buyers willing to pay a fair price for the high quality coffee the members of his cooperative are growing. For million of viewers around the world, Tadesse became the tireless man who travels around the world trying to save Ethiopian coffee farmers from bankruptcy.
Meeting him personally, Tadesse looks just as tireless and full of energy as in the movie. He speaks fast and with passion, convinced that the coffee he is marketing is one of the best in the world and therefore deserves to get the best price. On the occasion of the Fairtrade Week in Germany this September, Tadesse was once again on the road and travelled all over the country to tell consumers, coffee roasters, supermarkets and anyone else wishing to listen about the plight of the coffee farmers in his country and the difference that selling to the Fairtrade market can make to their lives. On his last day in Germany, he made a short stop in the FLO office and the FLO Communications team had the opportunity to interview him.
FLO: Have you noticed an impact on your community due to the media attention the movie has received?
T.M: It is probably too early to say. The real impact will only be seen over time. However, we received over 500 emails from people interested in buying coffee from Oromia. Also one company made a donation of 10.000 US dollars to build a school in Oromia. I am not sure if it is related to the launch of the movie but we have also experienced an increase of the price of our speciality coffee.
FLO: What does Fairtrade mean for coffee farmers in Oromia?
T.M: The Oromia Coffee Cooperative has been Fairtrade Certified for four years. Currently 50% of the coffee we export, 2.500 tonnes, is sold under Fairtrade terms. Since Oromia first started selling to the Fairtrade market, we have received an extra amount of 2.5 million US$ for our coffee, which is directly going back into the pockets of poor coffee farmers. And with the Fairtrade Premium the cooperative has been able to finance social projects which are benefiting the whole community. The following projects have been funded by Fairtrade Premium in Oromia:
- 5 elementary schools
- 5 health centres
- 27 clean water supply stations. (This was a very important project as the lack of potable water is a major problem in our country.)
- And we are currently building two secondary schools
The coffee farmers and the communities are especially committed to providing education for their children. They know education is the key for a better future for the community.
FLO: What are the main challenges for coffee farmers at Oromia
T.M: One of the main challenges of the cooperative is to get more coffee from the members. Often farmers don’t sell all their production to Oromia. They are still selling part of it to the middlemen. The problem is that often they need to get cash immediately and therefore sell to the first middlemen who knocks on their door. Middlemen take advantage of this situation and pay a low price for the high quality produce. From the cooperative side, we need to fight against this and build strong commitment from our members. This is not easy.
FLO: Any message for coffee consumers?
T.M: I would tell them to go and watch “Black Gold”: look in the eyes of the people who pick your coffee and feel their work when tasting your cup of coffee. After this, your coffee will never taste the same. And I am sure you will think twice about buying a Fair Trade cup or a regular one.
For more information about the movie Black Gold, please, visit the webiste: http://www.blackgoldmovie.com/
If you want to know more about Oromia Coffee Cooperative, you can visit their website: http://www.oromiacoffeeunion.org/
October was Fair Trade month for Transfair USA. Clicks on the special website dedicated to the month's activities included sweepstakes, special recipes, local ways to get involved, and more about the impact of Fair Trade. Visiting the website, it was easy to see that the Transfair team had much on offer for the month of October and beyond. It was a celebration bringing together the growing network of producers, retailers, and consumers of Fair Trade Certified products to promote Fairtrade nationwide.
During October thousands of retailers across the country conducted in-store promotions to help educate patrons about Fairtrade. Activist groups in 20 cities held Fair Trade coffee giveaways to inform commuters and students about their choices of morning brew. Dozens more committed individuals and organizations arranged local Fair Trade Month awareness-building events. And, in a number of cities Fairtrade farmers shared stories of how Fairtrade has benefited their families and communities.
During the Fair Trade month this year the Fair Trade Towns USA program was launched. Guidelines on how to apply to be a Fairtrade town along with “how-to” kits are available from Transfair USA.
To round off the Fair Trade month activities, TransFair USA organized a Fair Trade video contest with the theme of "Connect with Fair Trade." You can vote for your favourite video up until the 30th of November. The winner and a guest will travel to Peru to visit Fair Trade farms!
The next FLO Standards Committee meetings will take place in Bonn on the 26th and 27th of November 2006. The Minutes of the Standard Committee Meetings are published on the FLO website two or three weeks after they take place.
FLO International together with Max Havelaar France will participate in the first European Fair Trade Fair which will take place in Lyon, France, from 1-3 February 2008. FLO and Max Havelaar France will share a stand at the fair, where information about Fairtrade Labellling in France as well as internationally will be provided to the visitors.
The European Fair Trade Fair will gather for the first time, various European Fair Trade actors in a common space: importers, wholesalers, shops, distributors, but also public authorities, works councils and companies from different European countries. Awareness-raising, educational and development NGOs will also be present. Over 150 exhibitors have confirmed their presences and the organizers of the Fair, Equi'sol, are expecting around 8000 exhibitors.
The first part of the fair - Friday 1st February and Saturday 2nd February morning - will be dedicated to professionals. The objective is to develop and strengthen Fair Trade supply chains, and to structure them at a European level. Central topics to be discussed are : responsible Fair procurement, the impact of Fair Trade in the South, the cotton supply chain and the textile sector, as well as Fair tourism.
From Saturday 2nd February noon until Sunday 3rd February evening, the doors of the fair open to the public. Members of the public will have the opportunity to discover the variety of Fair Trade products, and participate in conferences, debates and activities to understand problems and issues at stake.
You can find all the information on the European Fair Trade Fair on www.salon-europeen-commerce-equitable.org
For its fifth consecutive year, FLO will have a stand at Biofach, the first world fair for organic products, which will take place in Nuremberg (Germany) from the 21- 24 February 2008. For more information on Biofach please click here.