Fair Trade USA has announced that two groups of independent, small-scale coffee farmers have achieved Fair Trade certification.
As part of Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade for All initiative, these new pilot programs will provide 800 small farmers in Costa Rica and Colombia access to the opportunities and benefits of Fair Trade, including: fair prices, safe working conditions, direct relationships with buyers, and the ability to earn community development premiums to empower and improve their communities.
These farmers were previously unable to achieve Fair Trade certification because they are not organised into formal cooperatives.
In the coffee sector, Fair Trade has historically been reserved for small farmers organised into co-ops, while in other categories like rice and cotton, independent small farmers can be part of Fair Trade.
To eliminate this inconsistency, Fair Trade USA is now piloting the Independent Smallholders Standard (ISS), which creates a path for small farmers to choose their own organisational form, and over time, organise themselves into more advanced structures such as cooperatives.
The ISS was developed in accordance with several existing standards and their compliance criteria, and integrates feedback from a diverse array of stakeholders solicited during a three month public review period.
According to the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung Foundation, 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by small-scale farmers, but only a fraction of them were previously eligible for Fair Trade.
In San Ramón, Costa Rica, 550 small-scale growers have joined forces to become the first group of independent smallholders in coffee to earn Fair Trade certification. Café de Altura de San Ramón is a producer-owned and operated organisation, though not technically a cooperative.
Cooperative farming has been historically unsuccessful in Nariño, the southern-most region in Colombia and home to approximately 35,000 independent, small-scale coffee growers.
Fair Trade USA has brought together 250 of these growers, who each owns between 1 and 5 acres of land, to participate in this pilot program. The farmers have organised themselves into community-based associations (of 30-50 people) enabling them to export as a group.
“We believe that all farmers and workers deserve access to the benefits and opportunities of Fair Trade,” said Miguel Zamora, Fair Trade USA’s Director of Coffee Innovation. “The inclusion of San Ramón and Nariño is the first step in a long journey to doubling the impact of Fair Trade for farming families across the globe.”
“The farmers of Nariño and San Ramón have long seen and heard about the benefits of Fair Trade in their neighboring communities,” said Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA, “but their own participation has never before been possible. We welcome them with open arms as they begin their Fair Trade journey of social responsibility and environmental sustainability.”
Source: Ingredients Network