Get involved with Fairtrade Fortnight

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight, 25 February to 10 March 2019, the annual celebration of farmers in developing countries who grow the food we eat. The event promotes a living wage for workers in some of the poorest countries around the world, better working conditions and local sustainability. Anna Pierides, Coffee Supply Chain Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, looks at coffee farming as an example of how organic and Fairtrade are closely aligned.

Get involved with Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade cooperative Arinagata. Copyright: James Robinson

Fairness is one of the founding principles of the organic movement, with the aim of providing a good quality of life for all involved and reducing poverty. So it makes sense that there is a close link between Fairtrade and organic. In fact, 51% of Fairtrade farmers also hold organic certification – to ensure the food they produce protects both workers and the environment.

The Soil Association, who certify 70% of all organic food in the UK, include detail about workers’ rights in their certification standards. They ensure that all their licensees comply with the UN convention for human rights, and the core standards of the international labour organisation, as well as not allowing involuntary labour or child labour.

For Fairtrade certified coffee farmers around the world, environmental protection and conservation is incredibly important. Central to the Fairtrade standards are requirements for them to improve their agricultural practices; which benefit the local environment, the health of the community and the quality of the products they grow.

Never has it been more important for us to focus on, and take responsibility for, our relationship with world around us. We are living in a time when coffee farmers are facing increasing challenges from climate change. Helping farmers adopt organic practices, to create a sustainable future for their livelihoods and the global coffee supply, is a priority for the Fairtrade Foundation.

Fairtrade and organic together in Indonesia

There are 25 Fairtrade certified coffee cooperatives in Indonesia and all but one are certified organic. For Indonesian farmers, protecting their nutrient rich soils and high quality coffee production goes hand in hand with their desire to be both Fairtrade and organic. At the cooperative Arinagata, in north Sumatra, farmers plant their organic coffee bushes between fruit trees to create a healthier growing environment. This way of farming improves the flavour of their coffee, creates shade to protect coffee bushes in the hot summers and increases biodiversity.

Below: Fairtrade farmers at cooperative Thuan An. Copyright: Anna Pierides.

Moving to organic in Vietnam

Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producer , exporting a significant amount of predominantly Robusta coffee. For decades, coffee farmers there have relied on the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase productivity and yields. At the Fairtrade certified cooperative Thuan An, Mr. Ha (pictured above) owns 6 hectares and has 3 children. He is one of the 58 members of the coffee cooperative, which is working towards organic certification. They are aware that previously in the community, they were dependant on methods of farming that were destructive to the environment. Moving closer to organic practices is what they aspire to achieve, to protect the future for them and the next generation.

Fairtrade & organic certified coffees in the UK

There are many businesses - from roasters to retailers - in the UK who source and sell dual certified coffee that is Fairtrade and organic. Such coffees are fantastic examples that buying and drinking a high quality product not only tastes great, but also contributes to protecting the future for the people who produce it and the places it comes from. There are Fairtrade and organic coffees available in shops and cafes across the country; so why not make it your next cup?

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This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is focussing on the people – in particular the women – who grow the cocoa in the chocolate we love so much. There are many ways to get involved in this year’s event, find out more on the Fairtrade Foundation website.

Below: coffee berries. Copyright: James Robinson.

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