South African Fairtrade Week

Today Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA) celebrates the start of their very first Fairtrade Week in South Africa, a campaign aimed at raising awareness about Fairtrade among the local public. Fairtrade Week’s slogan, ‘Taste the Change’, encourages South Africans to learn about the incredible potential of fair trading, and the significance it plays in improving lives in farming communities and in offering consumers the possibility of an ethical choice.

Amongst the activities planned for the week is the official product launch of the Fairtrade Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, which will finally be introduced to retail stores around South Africa (and the cost of a bar stays the same!)

Why buy Fairtrade?
Fairtrade creates more opportunities for those farming communities who have been economically disadvantaged or marginalised by the conventional trading system. Fairtrade benefits small-scale farmers and farm workers by:

  1. ensuring better trading, working and living conditions through Fairtrade Standards
  2. providing a Fairtrade Premium that small-scale farmers (in the case of a co-operative) and farm workers (in the case of a commercial farm) can invest in projects to improve their lives
  3. supporting sustainable production and protection of the environment for a better future
No system is perfect, but I do think Fairtrade is doing a great job of improving not only the lives of the farm workers and their communities, but also of minimising the damage to the already battered and bothered environment in which so many crops are grown:

Environmental standards focus on farming methods that are sustainable and safe. Amongst them: protection of sensitive natural areas, minimised and safe use of agrochemicals and ban of prohibited pesticides, safe and sustainable handling of waste and water, and no use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Perhaps one day this could even go a step further and support primarily organic and natural farming practices… a girl can dream, right?

Included in the media release were a number of examples of how Fairtrade is improving things here in South Africa, giving support to local farm workers, their families, and communities:

Bergendal Wine Farm – Western Cape

Location: Citrusdal, Western Cape, South Africa
Fairtrade certified for: wine grapes, rooibos tea, oranges, and soft citrus
Fairtrade products: Six Hats Fairtrade Wines

In 2006, three years after obtaining Fairtrade certification, 91 farm workers became shareholders with the creation of the Bergendal Workers Trust. Six months later a rooibos tea plantation was developed and in 2007 a packinghouse was built and a fruit exporting company, Everseason, established. At the same time the Carmien rooibos tea marketing company was started up. The trust holds shares from each of these ventures, ensuring diverse and profitable dividends.

Amongst other initiatives, farm workers’ homes were improved, a recreational hall and after care centre was built, and the local crèche was renovated.

Read full story.  Visit www.citrusdalwines.co.za

Dinaledi Farming Enterprises – Limpopo

Fairtrade certified for its oranges, lemons and grapefruit.

Money from Fairtrade premiums has been invested in schooling and education, the building of a recreation centre and the installation of hot showers.  Additionally, a portion of the 2010 Premium was also used to renovate a farm crèche and a number of beds were bought for the homes of workers on Grovedale farm. A small amount was set aside for low-interest loans afforded to farm workers, who used it to help pay for their children’s school fees.

Read full story.

Bosman Family Vineyards – Western Cape

Farm: Lilienfontein Estate (Bosman Family Vineyards), Wellington, South Africa
Fairtrade certified for: wine grapes
Fairtrade products: Appollis and Bosman Family Vineyards

At a milestone-marking event in January 2009, a joint venture between the Bosman family and the workers at Lilienfontein was birthed, forming the largest land reform partnership in the wine industry. “The Adama empowerment project turned [land reform] challenges into great opportunities: 260 permanent farm workers formed the Adama Appollo Trust of which they all are now beneficiaries. 430 hectares of [prime vineyard] land was included in the project, with Adama Trust acquiring a fifty percent share in the land,” Petrus Bosman, director of JC Bosman Farming, says. “The transaction also included a thirty percent share in the Bosman Family Vineyards cellar on Lelienfontein Estate and a five percent share in the operational farming concern, Lelienfontein Vinegrowers, Africa’s biggest vine nursery.”

Funds generated by the Fairtrade Premium has been invested in buying karate uniforms for the local karate squad (they attend the Bosman Farming Karate Club, an initiative started on the farm to keep farm workers’ children occupied) and plans for a fully-fledged karate club are in the pipeline. Other projects the committee has tackled include the renovation of two farm crèches, tiling of workers’ homes, stocking of a library on the estate and development of a computer centre.

Read full story.

A number of other inspiring worker case studies are published here.

A list of current and upcoming Fairtrade products in South Africa is available here.

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