March-April 2009

Fairtrade olive oil launches to success

Fairtrade olive oil is now available from Palestine; early indications show that consumers are very eager to support this product.  The official launch took place on February 23rd in London, marking the first day of Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations.

The Palestinian Fair Trade Producers Company (PFTPC) President Mahmoud Issa, the UK’s International Development Minister Michael Foster, the Fairtrade Foundation’s CEO Harriet Lamb, and representatives from the Cooperative, Equal Exchange and Zaytoun hosted a media conference at a Cooperative store. This event generated significant media attention.

PFTPC has been Fairtrade certified since January and is the first cooperative to be certified for olive oil.  PFTPC is made up of 8 smaller cooperatives, with a total of 293 members, and is based in Jenin Area, West Bank.  The organization would like to help bring more Palestinian producer coops into the Fairtrade system, including women’s cooperatives.  They also anticipate expanding their own relationship with Fairtrade to include certification of secondary crops, such as almonds and sesame.

A member of PFTPC with her harvest.
Sugar cane producers in Paraguay build towards a sustainable future

Two Fairtrade sugar cooperatives from Paraguay have experienced major successes. Members of Cañera del Sur, one of the cooperatives, had the opportunity to meet with the President of Paraguay to discuss the possibility of creating a national department within the Ministry of Agriculture to promote organic and Fairtrade production, including long-term support for agricultural production, processing, and marketing.

On a recent visit to the FLO offices, Luis Ruiz Diaz, President of Cooperativa Manduvirá, spoke about the improvements his Paraguayan sugar cooperative has been able to achieve through Fairtrade.  Since 2004 they have exported their sugar directly and brought in a much higher income; they hope to soon do their own processing.  Manduvirá distributes half of the Fairtrade Premium money it receives directly to its members to invest in their farms and households.  The remaining income is spent on social and economic projects for the cooperative, including a medical and dental health care clinic, school kits, farm machinery and diversification, as well as loans and training for members.

Luis Ruiz Dias in a press conference in Cologne, Germany
Fairtrade celebrates 10 years in Finland

To mark the ten-year anniversary of Fairtrade certified products in Finland, a celebration event was be held on March 27th. The President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, is spokesperson for the anniversary year and spoke at the event.

FLO’s CEO Rob Cameron and the African Fairtrade Network Chair and FLO Board Member Yorokamu Abainenamar also gave speeches. The event was attended by 240 people, including Fairtrade licensee companies and retailers, NGO partners, and members of the public.  As part of the ceremony, Finland celebrated its 4th and largest Fairtrade City.  The theme for the anniversary year is "Wellbeing Near and Far". This theme will be used to highlight four main themes: Fairtrade and the environment, community, local production, and health.

Video footage of the event, including speeches in English by Yorokamu Abainenamar and Rob Cameron, is available at: www.reilukauppa.fi/?380

President of Finland Tarja Halonen provides some impromptu translation for Yorokamu Abainenamar, Chair of the African Fairtrade Network
Fairtrade Fortnight success in the UK and Ireland

Fairtrade Fortnight 2009 combined its usual incredible campaigner activity, retailer in-store presence, and media coverage with some new initiatives.

In the UK, the Fairtrade Foundation launched the two-week campaign with a high level stakeholder conference and report entitled “The global food crisis and Fairtrade: Small farmers, big solutions?” The Foundation also organized a series of trade debates with NGOs in regional cities to discuss broader issues around Fairtrade and trade justice. In Ireland, the Minister for Overseas Development Peter Power launched the Fortnight with a lunch for Fairtrade Mark Ireland, three visiting producer representatives and all of the Irish companies involved in Fairtrade. The Irish Independent newspaper produced and circulated a 16-page supplement on Fairtrade.

For the grand finale of the campaign, more than 470,000 people took part in the Go Bananas world record attempt, generating fantastic regional media coverage. Backed by the catering company Compass and retailers Tesco, Waitrose, Asda and Sainsbury’s, events ranged from banana afternoon teas and banana school events to bars serving banana cocktails and banana dancing, to name just a few. To promote the event, the Fairtrade Foundation launched a viral video, “Rapping Bananas,” which was seeded across a range of social networking sites. The record was marked in London with a flash mob in Trafalgar Square.

More than 470 000 people participated in the record-breaking banana eating event
20 000 Fairtrade roses for International Women’s Day

Over 20 000 Fairtrade roses were distributed in 20 cities across Germany in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Throughout the country, volunteers braved the rain to hand out Fairtrade roses and postcards to the delight of women passing by.  The postcard featured Penninah Njambi from Pandaroses in Kenya and her message to consumers: "Fairtrade is very important for us, because now we can look ahead to the future."  Several prominent women were also presented bouquets of Fairtrade roses, including the Mayor of Bonn, where the FLO offices are located.

A passerby is presented with a rose for International Women's Day
Organic Jasmine Rice Producer Group scores perfect report

Organic Jasmine Rice Producer Group (OJRPG), a Fairtrade farmers’ organization from Thailand, is now the third producer group to receive a perfect Fairtrade certification report.  Among other accomplishments, OJRPG members have a very good understanding about Fairtrade and are engaged and knowledgeable in their organization’s decision-making process and use of the Fairtrade Premium.

OJRPG’s 617 members produce only high-quality organic Jasmine Paddy rice.  The organization has been Fairtrade certified since 2002 and is growing rapidly, more than doubling the number of its members since 2006.  The farmers are spread through 200 villages in one of the country’s poorer regions in northeast Thailand.  The furthest village is about two hours by car from the OJRPG offices in Trakarnphutphon city.  Through Fairtrade, OJRPG has invested in its own office facilities and has hired two full-time office support staff.  It has also set up a fund to disperse group loans for farming improvements, including the purchase of cattle, leveling rice land, etc.  OJRPG’s long-term vision is to be fully self-reliant and do their own marketing.

A member of OJRPG in his rice field
ILO, Coop and youth hostels convert to Fairtrade in Switzerland

A number of important organizations and catering outlets have begun providing more Fairtrade products across Switzerland.

The ILO (International Labour Organization) is now serving Fairtrade certified coffee, which will be enjoyed by the 2000 staff members at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  More than 140 Coop restaurants in Switzerland have begun serving exclusively Fairtrade certified rice to their customers.  The restaurants already offer Fairtrade coffee, honey and orange juice.  All youth hostels in Switzerland have begun serving a wide range of Fairtrade products, including coffee, tea, orange juice, rice and sugar.

Fairtrade rice now offered at Coop restaurants
African Fiesta held to honour Fairtrade in Vienna

Austria celebrated Fairtrade in style with Fairtrade Fiesta: New African Trends, a lively evening of music, fashion, and testimonies held on February 11th in Vienna.

The event was hosted by television personality Barbara van Melle and included a fashion show with clothing made from Fairtrade cotton.  Alex Assanvo, FLO’s Regional Manager for North, East and West Africa, was interviewed about Fairtrade and its benefits in Africa.  Three hundred guests attended and the event generated significant media attention.

To view photos, click here.

Fairtrade Fiesta celebrations
FLO blog now online

FLO has a blog!

This monthly opinion piece highlights Fairtrade’s relationship with the wider economic system and creates a space for dialogue.  In the coming months we will be exploring ways to expand this opportunity for interaction and debate.  You can read CEO Rob Cameron’s blog contributions at: www.fairtrade.net/floblog.html

Second European Fair Trade Fair launched

Registration for the second European Fair Trade Fair is now open.

The Fair will take place October 2-4th in Lyon, France.  Fairtrade Labelling will be represented at the Fair by FLO and Max Havelaar France.  There are 300 exhibitors and 20 000 visitors expected to attend.  For more information, including how to volunteer for this event, please visit: www.european-fair-trade-fair.org

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Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO)
Phone +49.228.94 92 30 – Email ¬ info@fairtrade.net ¬ www.fairtrade.net