Fairtrade products and certifications on the increase in Africa

“Fairtrade is an internationally-recognised phenomenon that makes a stand for justice in production and trade processes, and has been promoting the notion of sustainability and social development in southern Africa since April2009,” says Arianna Baldo, marketing co-ordinator at Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA).

“The Fairtrade certification facilitates the empowerment of small-scale farmers and enables community upliftment – it has to be trusted and ideally must become a movement so that there is confidence in the product(s).”
What does the Fairtrade mark represent?
Arianna Baldo, marketing co-ordinator at Fairtrade Label SA describes the Fairtrade product journey from farm to table as an ethically correct and scrupulously transparent one.
• Fairtrade encourages supportable production, growing without harmful chemicals, and essentially protecting the environment.
• Labour standards are strictly enforced and there is a policy of no discrimination or child labour.
• The farms and traders are audited annually to ensure that the supply chain is observing the correct requirements.
• Fairtrade guarantees that producers are getting a fair price that reflects the costs of sustainable production.
• Farmers and farm workers manage and receive a Fairtrade social premium (on top of the product price), which they can invest in socio-economic projects benefiting the greater community. This premium is usually spent on education, training and infrastructure improvement.

“FLSA’s main objectives are to increase awareness of Fairtrade among consumers and to create viable supply chains for the abundance of Fairtrade goods produced in SA and Africa. Fairtrade certified producers in SA and Africa supply everything from wine, bananas, citrus and vegetables to coffee, tea, flowers, nuts and cotton. These are however, still mainly exported to Northern countries, where Fairtrade is supported by a strong network of consumers and retailers.
Thanks also to the support of retailers such as Pick n Pay, which has committed to actively support the growth of Fairtrade in SA last year, we are working on increasing the product range available to local consumers, who can now enjoy locally produced Fairtrade wine and coffee from Eastern African Fairtrade cooperatives,” says Baldo.
“Our day-to-day work is therefore not only to organise events and promotional activities to bring Fairtrade closer to consumers” she states. “We also encourage the creation of South-South trade on Fairtrade principles in Africa by involving traders, retailers and the hospitality industry to make sure that these products are available to consumers with the ultimate goal of dramatically increasing the benefits for small-scale farmers and farm workers across the region.”
Baldo explains that products which carry the Fairtrade mark have to meet strict standards all along the supply chain – these are set and maintained by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International (FLO-Cert). FLO-Cert, as an independent certification body, regularly inspects and certifies producers and traders against these standards.
Who can be certified?
• Producers: There are two main types of producer organisations that Fairtrade works with:
1. Small farmers’ organisations such as co-operatives.
2. Commercial farms with permanent labourers. Bronwyn Page-Shipp of FLO-Cert says that the body has developed distinct generic standards for each group that relate to their different ownership structures.
• Traders: All traders in the supply chain must submit reports on their purchases and sales of Fairtrade commodities. They are inspected by FLO-Cert auditors on an annual basis.
• Products: For a product to carry the Fairtrade mark, a company needs to enter into a licencing agreement with FLSA.
The certification process Interested manufacturers need to apply for trader certification directly to FLO-Cert, the independent third-party certification body specialising in Fairtrade audits. FLO-Cert in SA is based in Cape Town – this office is responsible for the entire southern Africa region. Page-Shipp explains that trader certification includes rules for all trade actors, such as importers/exporters, manufacturers/processors, and packers.
“Once the application is accepted, FLOCert gives the manufacturer a ‘permission to trade’, which allows the manufacturer to start importing/trading the Fairtrade produce according to what is specified in the certification application.
“After trading commences, FLO-Cert does an audit at the manufacturer’s facility, mainly looking into the supply chain (to confirm if what has been declared as Fairtrade is actually Fairtrade), payments (that the company has paid the right minimum prices and premium to producers, as per Fairtrade standards) and traceability (that there is a full traceability system in place for Fairtrade products and that they are not mixed with conventional ones).
“Trade audits usually take one day (whereas farm audits can take up to three days when the farm or the co-operative is very big in size and structure). Once the audit is passed, the manufacturer achieves Fairtrade certification. This certification needs to be renewed annually prior to the audit.”
The time frame
Page-Shipp says that the time needed to become certified depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the business and/or its complexity. “However, upon application and receipt of the permission to trade (which takes around a month), the trader will start importing/processing the Fairtrade produce within 2-3 months, after which the audit takes place.”
The cost
Trade certification fees are €2,600 per year, but discounts are available for traders that do small volumes.
The benefits
According to Baldo, there are over 230 Fairtrade producer organisations in Africa – more than 60 of them based in SA. The Kaleya Smallholders Co, for example, was established as a smallholder’s settlement scheme to develop 1,185ha of sugar cane in the district of Mazabuka in Zambia. The area is settled by 300 smallholders each responsible for 4ha of sugar cane with family members caring for the infield irrigation, weed control and removal of
diseased cane stalks. The Kaleya Farmers Fairtrade Committee intends completing two schools that were built in Kaleya three years ago (which still have no windows and doors) and to build more schools in the near future. It also plans to improve drinking water availability for all four villages (home to 2,300 people) by investing in pumps and pipes for all the boreholes.
Baldo observes that the benefits of Fairtrade envelop all levels of society. “For farmers Fairtrade means improved trade conditions, longer trade contracts and minimum trade prices. For farm workers, the Fairtrade premium which is invested in a positive way is an incentive to work harder and boost productivity. It empowers the workers to make their own choices and improve their lives and communities with housing, electricity, transport, libraries, etc. For a business, Fairtrade can be a corporate social initiative, and it allows consumers to choose ethically and to change lives in an uplifting way.”
Baldo: Tel +27 21 448 8911; info@fairtrade. org.za website: www.fairtradesa.org.za
FLO-Cert, contact Bronwyn Page-Shipp:Tel + 27 21 671 0289; b.page-shipp@flo-cert.net; website: www.flo-cert.net