First Fairtrade vegetables open the door for Kenyan farmers associations
The first Fairtrade certified vegetables, green beans from Kenya, will go on sale in supermarkets from this week (24 May), creating new opportunities for hundreds of small-scale impoverished Kenyan farmers to sell under Fairtrade terms and through the Fairtrade premium invest in community projects.
The move has been made possible by the extension of new Fairtrade standards for vegetables, to include small-scale outgrowers who can only access export markets by selling their crops via larger plantations. The new standards allow these outgrowers to trade on via larger Fairtrade certified farms and receive their share of the Fairtrade premium, as well as supporting the small-scale outgrowers to become producer organisations who can be certified in their own right.
The first Fairtrade beans to the UK will come from a group of 23 outgrowers from Mweiga. They sell to Homegrown Kenyan Ltd, a Fairtrade certified plantation, who buy in vegetables from small scale farmers from 10 areas located in the higher rainfall areas of Kenya.
Stephen Kairu is from a farmers association of 10 farmers from the Mweiga group. He lives with his wife Mercy Nyambura, and two daughters as well as his mother and sister and her two children. Stephen rents four acres (1.6ha) of land and grows vegetables on three of them, mainly fine beans, garden peas, and baby corn.
Stephen dreams of owning his own farm and a better life for his children, which he hopes the Fairtrade premium will help him achieve. He says: ‘Primary education is now free but few children continue into secondary education because it is expensive. I would really like to give them the best education possible. And then they can go to greater heights.’
The biggest challenges that the farmers face are a lack of water, unfavourable weather and changes in consumer demand that make their markets unstable, and their incomes unpredictable. To read Stephen’s story or find out more about how the vegetables are grown go to www.fairtrade.org.uk
The first batch of Fairtrade certified boston green beans, will go on sale in selected Marks & Spencer stores. Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: ‘Working with Marks & Spencer over the last few years has brought more and more farmers into the Fairtrade system. This product first will help small scale farmers who are currently selling directly to a plantation, to make the leap to selling in their own right under Fairtrade terms and becoming organised producer organisations. In the long-term, they, their families, and communities will directly benefit the Fairtrade Premium, to invest in community development projects.’
The farmers who will decide democratically how to invest the premium say that plans include building a local secondary school as the nearest one is currently very far to travel and constructing a small medical clinic. As water is a big concern, they say they would like to invest in water conservation projects including: improved irrigation schemes to reduce waste; replacing water channels with pipes; and digging water pans to collect rain water and run off from the fields.
Development of the new standards has been a two-year project funded by the Sainsbury’s Fair Development Fund.
For more information contact Faith Mall, Media & PR Manager, the Fairtrade Foundation on 0207 440 8597.
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Notes to Editors
1. Development of the new standards has been a three year project funded by the Sainsbury’s Fair Development Fund. For more information go to : http://www.sainsbury.co.uk/food/fairtrade/fairdevelopmentfund/fair-development-fund-partnership.
2. The FAIRTRADE Mark is a certification mark and a registered trademark of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) of which the Fairtrade Foundation is the UK member. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label is now recognised by 72% of UK consumers and appears on products as a guarantee that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal. Today, more than 7.5 million people – farmers, workers and their families – across 58 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
3. Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool and olive oil.
4. 7 in 10 households purchase Fairtrade goods,, helping Fairtrade sales reach an estimated £800m in 2009, up from £712m in 2008. There are over 460 producer organisations selling to the UK with 872 certified producer groups in the global Fairtrade system, representing more than 1.5 million farmers and workers.
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