19 September, 2016

Fairtrade coffee producers visit Canadian Fair Trade Towns

by Mélissa Dubé

At the beginning of August, three Fairtrade coffee producers visited Canada from Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru. They crossed the country, talking to people about the impact of Fairtrade. Fair Trade Towns graciously welcomed the producers with open arms.

Producers

Griselda, Rodolfo and Javier, the producers, have witnessed the impact of the Fairtrade system on the lives of coffee growers and their communities. Here are a few examples:

  • Democracy means that people have their say in the things that affect their lives. The producers discussed how their organisations are now more democratic and focused on keeping all members informed and engaged.
  • 26% of farmers and workers in the Fairtrade system are women. Fairtrade standards, with their non-discrimination clauses, mean that more and more women are participating in the decision-making processes. Rodolfo’s COMSA cooperative in Honduras actively promotes coffee grown by women and Javier’s coop in Peru offers specific agriculture techniques training for women.
  • All 3 cooperatives use the Fairtrade social Premium to invest in research and innovation as they deal with climate change, a serious threat to coffee crops (read about leaf rust disease). Since 2014, Fairtrade coffee producers must invest 25% of the Fairtrade premium in productivity and quality improvement. The great news is that they are now seeing significant returns on these investments.
  • A recurrent concern is that fewer young people are excited to farm coffee. To address this issue, the cooperatives have established scholarships to encourage farmers’ children to study in agronomy or other fields related to agriculture. They aim to highlight the importance of sustainable farming and encourage young people to be proud of the coffee that their family grows.

Find out more details about the producers and their cooperatives:

We’re also grateful to the following 3 groups who kindly hosted the producers in an array of different events. Here’s a recap on their activities:

Calgary

CalgaryFair Trade Calgary hosted Rodolfo and Hugues Tshibemba, CEO of Fairtrade Canada at several events, including a morning in-store coffee sampling at the Bownesian Grocer, and a presentation and discussion at the Midtown Calgary Co-op Community Room.  An afternoon in-store coffee sampling at the Coop also included Javier and Griselda.  The three cooperatives supply to Fairtrade coffee brands such as Ethical Bean, Kicking Horse Coffee and Keurig Canada, which were featured products at the events.  Attendees included local roasters and café owners, the interested general public and Fair Trade Calgary volunteers.  Feedback on the event was positive and people enjoyed engaging with the coffee farmers while learning more about how the Fairtrade premium helps better the lives of the small producers through the cooperative model.

www.fairtradecalgary.com

Olds

OldsAugust 15 was an exciting day in Olds as Fair Trade Olds hosted two of the Fairtrade coffee producers at three separate events.  They began their day visiting the Cocoa Tree Bake Shoppe, a local bakery that sells Fairtrade products and bakes using Fairtrade ingredients.  A local journalist interviewed the producers and Fair Trade Olds there for an article in the local paper about the benefits of Fairtrade.  After some tasty treats, the producers visited the Westview Coop store where free samples of Fairtrade coffee were shared with a smile.

Customers were excited to see the producers who, in turn, enjoyed seeing Fairtrade coffee on the shelves. The producers then attended a locally sourced/Fairtrade luncheon held in their honour at the Olds Town Office where 32 members of the community enjoyed lunch and listened to presentations about fair trade and its benefits for small producers.  It was a fast and furious trip, but a great benefit for the citizens of Olds.

Fair Trade Olds reflects “As we become more connected to locally grown food, it is important to build a strong relationship with the people growing the food we love, but which cannot be grown locally.  Getting firsthand knowledge on how Fairtrade has benefitted the lives, business and communities of producers has encouraged many of us to deepen our commitment to Fairtrade.  We are inspired to organize more luncheons or dinners to reach out and raise awareness in our community. Fair Trade Olds is grateful to Sonia Reed who acted as our translator for the events.”

Fair Trade Olds on Facebook: http://bit.ly/2bSKjad

Vancouver

VancouverFair Trade Vancouver hosted a small event in a cozy venue: The Drive Coffee Bar. It was a very successful night! There was a definite interest for Fairtrade certified coffee: guests had no shortage of questions for Javier, Griselda, and Rodolfo!

Guests were treated with food and free Fairtrade coffee. In addition to the presentations by the producers, Fair Trade Vancouver also organised 2 coffee activities: Coffee Tasting/Grading with a certified Q Grader and Espresso Do's and Don'ts with the in-house Barista. Guests were spoiled as they left with notebooks and free coffee coupons for the next time they came by!

www.fairtradevancouver.ca