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Fair Trade: Uplifting the producers at the heart of our products

Fair Trade: Uplifting the producers at the heart of our products

The making of skincare, and just every other product, requires ingredients or parts. Some of these are created in laboratories while others are supplied by farms and small-scale producers. It is these people – a crucial link in the production chain – whose plight we recognise on 14 May: World Fair Trade Day.

World Fair Trade Day is a global event with the aim of drawing attention to the contributions made by and the issues, both social and environmental, facing small-scale producers. Being part of the Fair Trade movement is about envisioning and working towards a fairer world where trade is able to support, rather than exploit, them and their families to cultivate sustainable and healthy communities.

What is Fair Trade?

Fairtrade, the organisation, was formed in the 1980s as a response to the struggles facing Mexican Coffee farmers. Today, they have over 1.9 million workers in their network. Fairtrade provides them with better access to markets, up-to-date insights on pricing and quality as well as knowledge around sustainable practices.

Before the establishment of this global organisation, many corporations would – and plenty still do – acquire what they need through exploitative means. This can be direct, such as underpaying workers, or more indirect, such as being ignorant as to the conditions under which their ingredient or item is harvested or produced. As a result, many farming communities and producers the world over are suffering.

Some of the persistent issues facing farmers and workers in Africa are poverty, gender inequality and child labour. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), economic growth from the agricultural sector is 11 times more effective than any other at reducing extreme poverty in Southern Africa. It also employs 70% of the population. Despite this, many small-scale farmers live below the poverty line. An estimated 72.1 million children across the continent are forced to work to support their families. Another major concern is the effects of global warming. Rural farmers are at the forefront of the climate crisis and the rising temperatures and changing weather patterns impact agricultural productivity, affecting their income and food availability.

Being a Fair Trade brand means wanting to tackle, rather than contribute to, these issues. According to Fairtrade Africa, efforts are being made by the organisation and others to provide support to small agricultural communities. Farmers are being given the training to understand climate change and how to adapt their methods accordingly.

In order to improve the livelihood of workers, they are paid a Fairtrade minimum price and receive premiums. These premiums can be used on things such as building wells and hospitals, changing to organic farming or investing in better equipment. This empowers communities by allowing them to make decisions based on their current needs and future development.

Charity VS Fair Trade: What’s the difference?

Not to be confused with giving back or charitable donations, which are great but often unsustainable, Fair Trade is about uplifting economically disadvantaged workers through upskilling and supporting them. It is a much more hands-on approach. It’s crucial that people are able to take ownership of their lives and the prosperity of future generations by creating sustainable economic opportunities and creating social value to improve livelihood. Fair Trade is about empowerment through long-lasting, respectful trade practices and not just generosity. This is something we live by at Terres d’Afrique.

Is Fair Trade certification necessary?

World Fair Trade Day was established by the Fairtrade Foundation to showcase their efforts in the movement and to increase public awareness of the issues facing crucial links in the value chain. There is no doubt that this organisation does incredible work throughout Africa and the globe to ensure fairer, more sustainable trade and practices for those who need it most. The iconic logo also quickly conveys a brand’s values to increasingly conscious consumers.

Terres d’Afrique, however, is not Fairtrade certified because of the heavy cost of certification that contribute to the overhead of the Fairtrade Foundation. We are, however, a member of Phytotrade Africa. They are an organisation with a focus on conserving biodiversity and creating economic value through the sustainable trade of indigenous African plants. Phytotrade Africa is a member of the Fairtrade Foundation and uses the same Fair Trade charter to select its members. We play our role by choosing our suppliers very carefully to ensure that farmers are paid a fair price at market value or above, that no child labour is involved in the harvesting of our ingredients and that workers are being treated fairly and respectfully. We are transparent about our supply chain and pride ourselves in contributing to the upliftment of rural communities in Africa and the empowerment of women harvesters.

To ease the load of rural female farmers in Limpopo, 1% of all sales go to the Baobab Foundation. This non-profit supports various projects in baobab harvesting communities, including the planting of baobab trees and environmental education. In the Dambale Village that provides us with baobab for our skincare, they are building a pre-school.

We believe that the fruit of the land should be shared with the world while giving back to and supporting the people who live on it.