Traidcraft and co-operatives across the world fight poverty through trade

Britain's Traidcraft fights poverty through trade, helping people in developing countries transform their lives. To achieve this aim, the company is collaborating with many co-operatives around the developing...

Britain's Traidcraft fights poverty through trade, helping people in developing countries to transform their lives. To achieve this the company is collaborating with many developing countries co-operatives around the world.

Zenen Santana-Delgado, Supplier Support Co-ordinator for Traidcraft said the company is different from others because it pioneers innovations and works with producers to build their capacity.

“For us it’s more than just about fair trade; it’s about developing long-lasting, supportive relationships with small-scale producers, to help them grow and become independently sustainable. Traidcraft has a dedicated team who work directly with producers. We work closely with them, helping with quality, product design, ethical considerations and business practices, while more mainstream retailers take fair trade to a wider customer audience.

Carmelo Samayoa with smoker

“Our work has helped some developing world producers to reach sufficient quality and production levels to supply the mainstream – for example, Traidcraft’s work on diversification with Apicoop, a co-operative of beekeepers and honey farmers in Chile, led to them supplying the Co-operative supermarket with Fairtrade blueberries,” Mr Santana-Delgado said.

He believes co-operatives are key to sustainable development. For small scale farmers who work independently co-operatives are a great opening to deal directly with larger buyers at a higher level, instead of being squeezed by intermediary actors.

“The key to sustainable development, as well as empowerment, is for these farmers to group and work together as a co-operative. Co-operatives can also collaborate, such as buying fertilizer together, or hiring machinery as a group. Everything changes when they work together – they learn more about managing their land and organising their business,” said Zenen Santana-Delgado.

One of the most recent projects developed by Traidcraft involved the members of the Apicoop beekeeping co-operative. The co-operative was originally focused on beekeeping and honey but, due to the recent global economic changes, it became too risky to concentrate on only one product. Traidcraft worked with Apicoop members on a diversification project, which had a focus on blueberries.

“Now, not only do the beekeepers have another source of income, but also the blueberry farm provides valuable work for women in the local community. Apicoop is based in a rural area of Chile where there are limited work opportunities. Women now have the opportunity to work during the harvesting period, with guarantee of fair payment,” added Mr Santana-Delgado.

For Traidcraft fair trade is of a tremendous importance in fighting poverty and ensuring sustainable development.“The Fairtrade premium is money that is paid to producers on top of the agreed price. This money is used on community, environmental or economic development projects, and is invested back into the community. For example, the money may be used to create a borehole for the community to get water, secure access to electricity for their village or build a collection centre for local tea farmers to bring their crop,” explained Mr Santana-Delgado.

Traidcraft is currently working with a beekeepers’ co-operative in Guatemala called CIPAC. The project is similar to the one in Chile. Climate change determines changing weather conditions which affect the bees and the honey harvest. Traidcraft has supported CIPAC to diversify into coffee, which will be available to buy in spring next year.

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