As members of our ACTA we are familiar with and supportive of sustainble agriculture! With growing emphasis in the media on this subject, it may be opportune to update and clarify the current position, particularly in view of substantially higher world coffee prices.
Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for more than 1.65 million farmers and workers in developing countries. This enables producers to have more control over their lives, decide how to invest in their future and to build thriving communities.
Fairtrade then works with businesses and governments to increase transparency in supply chains, and connect producers with the businesses and people who buy their products.
The Fairtrade Mark, which is displayed on products, shows that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet internationally agreed Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. Products carrying the Fairtrade Mark are independently certified and audited to ensure compliance.
Established in the late 80¡¦s Rainforest Alliance certification is managed by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) ¡V a coalition of independent, non-profit conservation groups - to help farmers cope with the erratic swings in the global market and by enabling them negotiating leverage and access to the entire world market.
By implementing sound practices and sustainable farm management systems, farmers are able to reduce costs, become more efficient and primarily improve crop quality.
The Rainforest Alliance members are not directly involved in the negotiations between farmers and their product buyers. However, most farmers are able to use their certification as leverage to command a price premium, generally an additional 20-30% over the market.
Current Differences between Fairtrade Certificate and Rainforest Alliance Certification
Fairtrade certification is a certification system designed to guarantee disadvantaged farmers receive at least a sustainable minimum price for their product. As well as this, farming cooperatives receive a Fairtrade Premium – an extra sum of money they can democratically invest in projects in their farms and communities.
The SAN programme (Rainforest Alliance) on the other hand, focuses on how farms are managed rather than how products are traded. SAN standards cover all of the issues that need to be considered on the path towards sustainability, including worker protection and the right to a safe, clean working environment. Rainforest Alliance and SAN work with all types of farms from small co-operatives and family farms to large plantations.
Causes for Concern
Some points that our members should consider: -
- Current record 7 year price levels and how these reflect on sustainable agriculture.
- Ever increasing defaults and non-fulfilment of contracts by some certified producers.
- Producers¡¦ obligation in light of market developments.
- Ensuring quality adequately reflects premiums paid for sustainable coffee.
- Militant activity by some uninformed groups.
- Delineating high priced quality coffees from low grade, poor quality bulks and subsequent minimum prices paid.
Your Association is working closely with sustainable / conservation groups to ensure a fair and accurate representation of our industry as a whole is portrayed. We are aware there are issues that are becoming increasingly political in nature and not always within established guidelines. These issues require careful discussion and unified responses. Our association is well positioned to address these issues on your behalf and would gladly welcome your response to these and any other sustainable related matters.