Monday, 13 September 2010

Fairtrade and the Millennium Development Goals by Elod Kafaukoma

Elod Kafaukoma is a sugar cane farmer from Kasinthula, Malawi. He worked as Secretary to the Fairtrade Committee of the Kasinthula co-operative between 2005 and 2007. During this time he learned a lot about the Fairtrade movement and how it benefits producers like him. He was born and raised in the Shire Valley of Malawi, home of Kasinthula, and lives in Chinangwe village with his wife and young child. 

Here he shares his thoughts on how Fairtrade has helped contribute to the MDGs in his area.

Today’s generation has opportunity and access to improve the local and global communities through the  Millennium Development Goals and introduction of Fairtrade. One of the areas that experiences unreliable rainfall is Lower Shire (Chikwawa and Nsanje) even though there are potential resources like good water of Shire River, good soils and better temperature for various crops. Kasinthula was registered and licensed to sell its product (sugar) on Fairtrade deal. This Fairtrade market has drastically transformed the surrounding community through implementation of development projects like hospital, primary school; bore holes with safe and clean water, electrification and covering school costs.

MDG 1, 3 and 5
. The Fairtrade premium funded projects which are implemented in various surrounding areas where producers sell their products on Fairtrade, give job opportunities to more rural people. This reduces poverty and hunger in their households. Men and women are working in these projects. Initially women were considered as people who can not contribute as men. Women have various roles to do at household level. The construction of rural clinics through Fairtrade premium money relieves women of travelling long distance for medication. More pregnant women are readily cared within their rural area compound. This improves maternal care.

. Other producers in Malawi and other countries that sell their various products on Fairtrade deal have already almost achieved the Millennium Development Goals. The Fairtrade premium money is covering the school costs like fees and learning materials for the surrounding children. The premium money encourages Universal Primary Education.

MDG 4, 6, 7 and 8
Children in every society rely on elders’ protection. They have no say over whatever harm to them. The Fairtrade standards state more about the child protection on labour basis. More Fairtrade premium funded projects provide children with basic necessities like clinic in rural areas, clean and safe water as well others. Satemwa Tea is also a Malawian producer licensed to sell the product on Fairtrade deal. It was very impressing when Satemwa provided the surrounding community with treated mosquito nets bought through Fairtrade premium money. This encouraged more registered producers to combat on HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases. The Fairtrade standards encourage producers to develop more strategies to improve the sustainability of the environment. The standards also encourage unionization of workers to support and encourage partnership of all stakeholders in order to achieve all required developments for the betterment of the societies globally. The Fairtrade premium is the potential alternative to achieve all MDGs by 2015. However, other disadvantaged farmers in rural areas should be identified and mobilized to start selling their raw materials and products on Fairtrade deal for the sustainable economic status in all dimensions.  

Thursday, 2 September 2010

What's your Ghanaian name? by Barbara Crowther

Here in Ghana it’s common, especially among those who speak Akan, to be called by the day of the week on which you were born. So today I learnt that, as I was born on a Tuesday, my Ghanaian name is Abena. What’s yours? Find out the day you were born here and then check out your Ghanaian name here.


So, Abena was how I introduced myself to the small community of Mensakrom, who greeted us in turn with vibrant music and singing, as well as a taste of their local palm wine. Mensakrom is one of the 1400 village societies that make up Ghana’s foremost Fairtrade co-operative, Kuapa Kokoo.

Kuapa is well known to many Fairtraders as the only cocoa farmers’ co-op that owns their own 100% Fairtrade chocolate brand, 
Divine Chocolate, now sold in both the UK and US. Over the last 18 months, Kuapa have increased their total Fairtrade sales each year from roughly 5,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes as a result of Cadbury Dairy Milk going Fairtrade. The increased premiums from all of these sales have meant that Kuapa has now got more people providing agricultural training to farmers, a mobile team of doctors travelling round the communities (they’ve visited 1000 farmers already), and this year they were able to triple the end of harvest bonus payment to every single one of their members. 

I was also delighted to meet Kuapa Kokoo’s first ever woman President, Christiana Ohene Agyare, who was elected in a landslide victory at Kuapa’s recent AGM, attended by more than 2500 representatives of the village groups (thanks to Divine Chocolate for this pic of the inaugural moment). She told me that what she hopes to achieve in her four-year term of office is for the volume of quality cocoa to ‘grow and grow and grow’ and is confident her own crop this year will be 25% up on last year. She also hopes to empower all the women cocoa growers both in their village communities and at every level of Kuapa’s work. Her own election seems a pretty good sign they're already well on the way to doing that.  In fact in everything they do, from cocoa growing to running democratic and inclusive village cooperatives, Kuapa aim to be 'papa paa' - the best of the best.

Shortly before I left, I was chatting to 17-year-old Stephen Tawiah who wanted people to know the difference Kuapa is making in the villages. Stephen wants to be a journalist – and has sent you all a short video message here.