Spotlight on: Aruna Anand, NAP CEO
Aruna Anand joined the Fairtrade movement as CEO of the Network of Asian Producers (NAP) just two months ago. With 14 years of experience in the development sector, Anand is prepared to step into the leadership role as CEO of Fairtrade’s youngest producer network. The NAP currently comprises 182 producer organizations and represents thousands of Fairtrade certified producers from Pakistan to the far reaches of Papua New Guinea.
You have just been working with the NAP and Fairtrade for two months, what has been your biggest learning experience?
I think the biggest learning happened within a week after I arrived when we had the NSF (New Standards Framework) consultations in Ayothaya in Thailand. That was a great grounding into the system; to understand the system, how it functions, what the opportunities are, and what are the threats that are coming in.
Really, I don’t think any amount of sitting and reading about Fairtrade and getting oriented toward the various systems and principles can replace live interaction with people. When you meet producers and they talk about the various issues, these live interactions orient you into the system much faster than books or videos or brochures.
You have worked a lot with disaster relief in the past, how important is trade to getting communities affected by disaster back on track?
When you look where disasters are, like for example the flooding in Pakistan, day to day life has been affected quite a lot. Apart from the basic relief work, that is going out to the people there, I think livelihoods is a key issue to help people to move on.
But we cannot look at it in isolation. We need to look at it from a holistic angle of how we help these people get their life back on track. We need to look at basic things like food and shelter, and in those cases it is important (for Fairtrade) to look at strategic partnerships with certain organizations which are working on the ground to address these kinds of issues. And then we can look at livelihood issues in terms of trade.
What are the challenges facing NAP?
One of the key things that producers want is more access to markets. This is a need coming from producers all across the region. They are very keen on getting their sales volumes increasing. That is also the reason why we really need to look at domestic Fairtrade markets very closely and work closely with FLO’s new market development team to see how we can open up local markets.
If producers see this market opening up, it will be quite exciting for existing producers and attract new producers wanting to come in as well.
For more information on the Network of Asian Producers, visit http://www.fairtradenap.net/.