The existence of programs that can respond to current key challenges, such as climate change and food security, is deemed urgent. Kozel Fraser brought the successful experience of fair trade practices of small producers in the Windward Islands (Caribbean) to the panel “Community Practices for Development”, during the morning of November 4th, within the framework of the seminar “Local Authorities towards 2030: Dialogues for Development”, at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon. An ethical system of production and consumption guarantees environmental preservation and public health protection, as well as it promotes decent living conditions for workers.
According to the coordinator of the Association of Farmers in Windward Islands (WINFA), Kozel Fraser, “we need a model of development that not only focuses on technologic innovation”, but that above all, is “firmly laid in ethical foundations”. In this sense, everybody is called to a joint edification of this model of development through the adoption of policies intended to ensure the compliance with environmental, social and economic criteria; through the promotion of businesses that ensure the livelihoods and dignity of all workers involved; and also thought reflected consumption choices, thus enhancing social justice.
To Kozel Fraser, while the consumption of local products, with the minimum ecological footprint possible, should be strongly encouraged, it is also important to think of those whose survival directly depends on the export of their products. Products which are complementary to production activities in other areas. “We are working in a global context aiming to achieve a Sustainable Development by 2030, in which environmental and socioeconomic interests must be reconciled”, Fraser points out.
Working for peace and environmental preservation is, according to Kozel Fraser, an exercise in which “no one can replace us” and, therefore, everyone is called to contribute “in a constructive and active way”.
Make Fruit Fair: Portugal fair trade insight
“Supermarkets will provide sustainable products if customers require so” and “I believe the Portuguese people wants to consume in a responsible way”, ensures Kozel Fraser, activist of the campaign “Make Fruit Fair”, visiting Portugal between the 31st of October and the 4th of November. During this period, she had the opportunity to have a meeting with Jerónimo Martins and Sonae Groups, two of the leading retailers in Portugal. These groups appeared to be available for further discussion about the supply chain of fair tropical fruits and also to get to know a little more about the specificities of Fair Trade Products. It will now be up to the customers to choose.
The retailers are the first to state: we buy what customers want to buy. To Kozel Fraser, a consumption that respects, in its genesis, the environment and workers’ living conditions can be considered a healthy consumption, concerned about the well-being of future generations. In a moment when we are still in the midst of an economic crisis, it would be important not to burden the Portuguese with the higher costs that this Fair Production model often entails. Kozel Fraser believes that there is still room for retailers to reduce their profit margin in the sale of bananas, one of the best-selling tropical products in Portugal. Products which are Fairtrade International certified and that comply with environmental and social criteria, are today, on one side, a viable alternative for the small producers in the Windward Islands (Caribbean), which Kozel Fraser represents. On the other side, they constitute a guarantee of biodiversity and quality for a large number of customers that have been acquiring them in the United Kingdom’s marketplaces.
Bananas requesting a truce
Today, bananas symbolize the victory (and challenges) of Fair Trade Certification and are the best-selling products among those which are traded fairly, with market shares between 10% and 50% in many European countries. The minimum prices which are paid for Fair Trade bananas have prevented thousands of small farmers from being excluded from the markets. In addition, there are also some organizations, which are well established in the Fair Trade circuit and follow the diverse and consensual rules of Fair Trade International certification, or that go beyond them, but that, nevertheless, do not make use of the Fair Trade Certification.
However, to Kozel Fraser, the introduction by retailers of some Fair Trade products does not replace, on the one hand, the necessity of Governments to implement legal provisions regulating the global commercial practices of retailers that operate within their jurisdiction. On the other hand, it does not replace the need to create mechanisms of independent control that can guarantee the effective application of fair trade practices in exporting countries, namely within vast plantations of tropical fruits which are not covered by the Fair Trade system. For example, it would be important that supermarkets that want to guarantee sustainable trade practices together with their consumers, are capable “to find ways to verify on the ground the daily working and living conditions of workers”, she highlights.
The campaign Make Fruit Fair has been increasingly reporting the violation of rights such as the lack of decent working and living conditions in the exporting countries, in particular of migrants and women. Moreover, attention must be placed on the frequent lack of freedom of association and the persecution of trade unions as well as the recurrent use of agrochemicals in plantations, practice which has a negative impact both on the environment and on the health of workers.
Citizenship generates citizenship
In order to have purchasing power, every citizen must have access to a decent job. Be it a citizen who is a worker in a plantation of tropical fruit in Latin America or a citizen who buys these same fruits in Europe. Therefore, through the pressure exerted by syndicates or exerted by the citizens towards the retailers – which have the final word over the fair price to pay to the suppliers – and towards the EU and European National Governments – which have the duty to regulate the commercial practices – it is deemed possible to fight for the environmental preservation, for food sovereignty and for a bigger social justice. All rights which are indivisible.
The coordinator of the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA), who brought to Portugal the voice of producers and workers of the campaign “Make Fruit Fair”, participated on the 4th of November in the Seminar “Local Authorities Towards 2030: Dialogues for Development”, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon. During her stay in Portugal, Kozel Fraser visited the Jerónimo Martins and SONAE groups and also received from DECO/ Consumare, from CGTP-IN and from the Portuguese Platform NGDOs, demonstrations of solidarity and of willingness to carry out future awareness raising initiatives fostering citizens’ awareness on fair commercial practices.
“Make Fruit Fair – Promoting the fair tropical fruits in the European Year for Development and post-2015” is financed by the European Union (EU) and promoted in Portugal by the Instituto Marquês de Valle Flôr (IMVF), and advocates the adoption of fair trade practices in all phases of the tropical fruit supply chain. The project, developed between 2015 and 2018, involves 19 EU partners together with Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador and Windward Islands.
People have the power. The Make Fruit Fair project brought WINFA’s Coordinator Kozel Fraser to Portugal between the 31st of October and the 4th of November. Kozel shared the experience of banana producers from Caribe that use the fair trade market system to face social, economic and environmental challenges. Citizens’ choices can free markets from precariousness. The same precariousness that forces citizens to think that, as consumers with low purchasing power, they lack the capacity to influence markets. But they have it.