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FREE Winter / Spring 2018


Bananas: All About Canada's Favourite Fruit Reforestation Fair Trade Tourism North-South Solidarity



The Most Popular Fruit in the Bowl From Panama disease to the benefits of social premiums, get to know everybody’s favourite—Fairtrade bananas—straight from the experts.


/ spring 2018 |




We Must Make Trade Fairer for Women Advancing women’s rights and gender equality can help reduce extreme poverty around the world.

inside Publisher’s Letter.............................................................4 Why Fair Trade?...............................................................7 Fair Trade and Solidarity........................................... 12 Rice: Feeding Millions..................................................14 Fair Trade Programs Update....................................26


Reforestation: Strengthening Ecosystems and the Livelihoods of Small-Scale Farmers Nicaraguan farmers diversify revenue by planting native trees.

recipe Bittersweet Fairtrade Brownies..............................28

book review How Change Happens..................................................30


Can Tourism Be a New Frontier for Fair Trade? Tourism should benefit host communities, not burden them. Read about how fair trade could work for the tourism industry.




publisher’s letter

Publisher | Sean McHugh Managing Editor | Erik Johnson Editor | Bryce Tarling Contributors | Erin Bird, Loïc de Fabritus, Monika Firl, Gavin Fridell, Zack Gross, Michelle Gubbels, Kimberly Leung, Torrye McKenzie, Megan Redmond, Francesca Rhodes, and Julie Sage Photos | GMB Akash Panos / Oxfam (17),

The Power of Choice


he average adult makes thousands of decisions every day. These decisions can be simple, like choosing what to wear or how to get to work, and they can be complex, such as making investments or taking out a mortgage. Whether simple or complex, these decisions shape our lives and the lives of our families, friends, and communities. Sometimes, we can get lost in these decisions. We might feel like our choices as individuals are insignificant, mere drops in a bucket. This isn’t the case. Each of our decisions has significance. They can affect which businesses grow and which ones fail, and which governments hold power. They also affect the livelihoods of people across the world. The world is as complicated as it is interconnected, full of countless possibilities and dead ends. When looking at this complexity, we might be tempted to switch off. But if we want to see a better future—of social justice and healthy ecosystems—then we need to help build it. And that work begins when we recognize the impacts of our decisions and align our choices with our principles, including respect for the planet and the people we share it with. Let’s be active, engaged citizens. Maybe it starts with a simple decision: Wear a fair trade T-shirt. Ride a bike to work. Then try something bigger, like investing in companies that value social and environmental sustainability. Yes, our decisions have consequences for the greater world. Whether we realize and embrace this fact or just plain ignore it, our choices can help shift our world away from systems that exploit people and the planet toward something new, something built on respect and equality.

Sean McHugh Publisher, Executive Director Canadian Fair Trade Network

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Melissa Dubé (26), Monika Firl (3, 19–22), Julie Sage (cover, 3, 7–11), Shutterstock (3, 12–14, 23–24), Abbie Trayler Smith / Oxfam (3, 16), Bev Toews (27), and Marika Witkamp (28–29) Layout | Erik Johnson

We want to hear from you! 514 – 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 1-604-685-6005  |

Canadian Fair Trade Network Réseau canadien du commerce équitable

The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) is a non-profit organization that works with civil society and industry stakeholders to advance awareness and support for fair trade in Canada. It supports collaboration and best practices within the fair trade movement to increase Canadian commitments to international social responsibility. Fair Trade Magazine is published by the Canadian Fair Trade Network. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without publisher’s written permission. Not responsible for unsolicited editorial material. The information provided in this magazine is for educational and informational purposes only. Fair Trade Magazine makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information it provides but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from errors or omissions.




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FANCY FAIRTRADE BANANAS for your next community event?

Equifruit believes in building partnerships with community & campus groups who advocate for fair trade. Drop us a line! Let's work together to make bananas fair.

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Learn more at

Why Fair Trade? We Canadians depend on others to grow many of the products we enjoy every day: cocoa, coffee, fruits, vegetables, and much more. Unfortunately, the supply chains that bring these products to us are often long and convoluted. They lack transparency, and this can lead to exploitation, low pay, poor working conditions, and environmental devastation. Yet we can take an active role in changing this. We can build solidarity with the people who grow our food by choosing fair trade.

Fair trade is respect and equality Fair trade isn’t just an economic model. It’s a partnership between consumers and producers, based on mutual respect. With fair trade, producers receive a guaranteed minimum price for their products. This price reflects market value and recognizes the incredible effort it takes to grow food and produce goods.

And a little extra to help close the gap When businesses purchase fair trade–certified products, they deal directly with the producers. They pay fair market prices plus an additional fair trade premium. Producers use this premium to grow their businesses or fund community development projects—like schools and healthcare centres. Ultimately, fair trade sees producers lead their businesses, shape their communities, and set their own course toward economic independence.

Mutually beneficial long-term commitments Typically, fair trade businesses and producers negotiate long-term trading partnerships— this adds stability at both ends of the supply chain. Producers can rely on these commitments to plan for the future. Businesses selling fair trade products can count on a steady supply of high-quality goods.

Fair trade promotes gender equality Many fair trade co-ops have benefitted from strong women leaders and managers. Fair trade aligns with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy and Goal 5 of the UN’s

Fair trade standards

Sustainable Development Goals. The best fair trade certifiers protect gender equality and

Fair trade certifiers, organizations, and

empower women and girls through their standards.

producers work together to create and enforce standards for production, labour, trade, and

Fair trade and climate change

more. These standards ensure the system

Our everyday purchases affect people and the planet. Fair trade standards limit pesticides

works for producers and not against them.

and chemicals use, promote sustainable agricultural and soil regeneration techniques, and support reforestation and water management projects. In addition, fair trade carbon credit

Third-party certifiers mark products with

programs provide additional revenue for producers.

a seal or label to signify that the product has met their standards. The Canadian Fair

When we choose fair trade products, we stand against poverty in the Global South. Yet fair

Trade Network currently recognizes Fairtrade

trade isn’t a handout. Fair trade products are noted for their high quality and are produced

International, the Small Producers’ Symbol,

in a way that respects human dignity and the health of our planet.

the Fair Trade Federation, and the World Fair Trade Organization.





THE BANANA HAS CHARACTER. Sure it bruises easily and isn’t fond of travel, but it’s adored across the world: Over 100 billion are eaten every year. At both Discovery Organics and Equifruit, we love bananas too—especially Fairtrade bananas. We import them directly from our partners in Ecuador and Peru, and sell them to both grocery distributors or grocery stores. Keep reading, and we’ll share a little bit about what makes the banana so lovable.

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Banana supply chain: Short and direct! Timing is everything. Bananas are delicate individuals. They dislike long journeys and layovers and demand to be ripened with extreme care. Oh, and they hate to be cold and will turn grey to manifest their grumpiness! Our bananas are picked, packed, and shipped green and starchy. This buys us time and accounts for several weeks transit to the ports of Vancouver, New York, or Philadelphia. Some producers wonder why we order green bananas, and imagine at first that’s how we like them in North America.

Climate change consequences Banana plants are actually big herbs—not trees. They don’t have strong root systems and are vulnerable to strong winds and flooding. Extreme weather, like hurricanes, can severely damage an entire banana-growing operation in very little time. Higher precipitation, as experienced in the last few years, results in higher incidence of humidity-related diseases, such as crown rot. Especially vulnerable are organic productions, since they use no chemical inputs and require additional vigilance.

Perils of Panama disease and TR4 Today’s most common and widely exported banana variety, the Cavendish, hit the mainstream when the incumbent #1 Banana, the Gros Michel, went extinct in the 1960s, wiped out by a suffocating root fungus called Panama disease. Today, Cavendishes growing in Africa and Asia are threatened by a strain of Panama disease called Tropical Race 4, or TR4. While Cavendishes are hardier than Gros Michels, TR4 can lay dormant in soil for decades, and no effective treatment is presently available. Understandably, TR4 remains a biological risk that could eradicate the Cavendish and the livelihoods of those who grow it.

Producer stories: Fairtrade adds stability Justa, who is a member of the Association of Small Producers of Saman and Anexos (APPBOSA), a Peruvian banana co-op, told us that one of the most important upsides of selling under Fairtrade terms is the steady and stable income. Because Fairtrade encourages commitments to long-term contracts and building relationships with growers, Justa knows she has a consistent weekly income, which she can invest in her farm, home, and children’s futures. Willy, also a member of APPBOSA, appreciates how the stability has allowed him to keep his children in school and even pay for their university educations. His two eldest daughters are nurses who have returned to the community, and his youngest is currently in medical school. Considering that CF TN.C A |


Banana fun facts •

Originally from Asia, bananas travelled first to Africa and then to South America. They arrived in North America in the late 1800s.

Bananas are the largest fruit crop and the fourth-most valuable food crop in the world, behind only wheat, rice, and milk.

Bananas are a staple for many people around the world; over 100 billion are eaten every year—51 percent of those at breakfast. On average, one person eats 12 kilograms of bananas every year.

In Canada, bananas are the highest selling produce item after apples. But if you compare individual varieties, bananas are actually the best seller. It takes all the apple varieties—Gala, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, etc.—to beat bananas.

he has only a primary level education, he is extremely proud to be able to offer this gift to his children. The impact here in just one generation is huge!

Bananas with benefits: Producers and the Fairtrade Premium Growing Fairtrade-certified bananas is hard work. Fairtrade standards require fruit to be produced in ways that are sustainable for local ecosystems and economies. That includes paying workers a minimum wage. So when we buy bananas from Fairtrade-certified growers, we pay a fair price, one that reflects the costs of environmentally and socially responsible production. We also pay an additional social premium (US$1 per 40-pound case), which producers can use to fund various projects to develop their communities and businesses.

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In 2016 and 2017, Discovery Organics and Equifruit together paid US$344,000 in social premiums to Fairtrade banana growers. The organizations we partner with usually spend Fairtrade Premium money in similar ways. Almost half is spent on improving healthcare, while the rest goes to education and infrastructure. For example, the producers who were affected by last year’s El Niño–related flooding used the Premium to help rebuild, as well as hire agronomists to install drainage systems in their fields. At Ecuador-based ASOGUABO, producers are using social premium money to run a plantation-style farm on rented local land to grow more bananas for export. They’ve hired additional local workers who don’t own their own land, and have given these workers more access to Premium funds and stable jobs.

Where to buy Fairtrade bananas You can buy Fairtrade bananas at grocery stores, large and small, in Quebec and Ontario in the east, and BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in the west.

Bananas on campus Since January 2017, every banana sold at Concordia University in Montreal is Fairtrade certified. The school was the first in Canada to make the full switch. Next was Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, BC, which made the change in September 2017.

Conventional or organic Currently all Fairtrade-certified bananas sold in Canada are also organic certified. However, most Fairtrade bananas sold worldwide are conventional, not organic. Both conventional and organic Fairtrade bananas are produced under the same labour standards that protect workers from exposure to harmful chemicals.

One in three? Si se puede! In the UK, one in three bananas is Fairtrade certified. Imagine if Canadians embraced Fairtrade bananas the same way? In 2016, 569,630 tonnes of bananas were imported into Canada, yet less than 2 percent were certified Fairtrade. There is a long way to go, but together we can do it! Michelle Gubbels is project manager for Equifruit, based in Toronto. Julie Sage manages the direct trade and Fairtrade programs for Discovery Organics.




Fair Trade and Solidarity

by the relatively modest fair trade price. Fair trade has long challenged Western norms around consumerism, BY GAV IN FR IDELL promoting the idea that consumers should know something about how their products are made. Over the years, one could argue, this part of fair trade has been shuttled to the sidelines by the participation of ever-bigger corporate players—it’s hard to say that a bag of fair trade coffee at Starbucks offers much real knowledge about the specific community that produced the beans. More recently, Southern groups have been major players in pushing for a rethinking of fair trade and development. They have demanded, and received, greater say in fair trade governance, and, in 2005, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (in Spanish, Long Bao / CLAC) launched the Small Producers’ Symbol (SPP). Its standards, aimed at promoting smallholder livelihoods, are hat is development? What are its goals and who drives developed and overseen by the farmers themselves. Compared the process? The idea of international development to traditional fair trade, SPP standards include higher prices has always been hotly debated, and in recent years things have and larger purchasing commitments from Northern importers. heated up again in response to a changing world. Small Producers’ certification is one indicator of new Among Southern countries, a small but important group directions in fair trade, away from a model of the North have increased their economic and political weight, in some “helping” the South and toward a solidarity vision rooted in cases becoming major aid donors, even while inequality within cooperation and mutual learning. nations has grown, shaking up traditional understandings of Several new trends are emerging that are significant for North and South, Rich and Poor. rethinking fair trade along the lines of solidarity. In the North, people have increasingly recognized the need to decolonize development, to pay greater attention to Four ideas for a renewed fair trade inequality, gender discrimination, racism, and indigenous First, there is a growing appreciation of the need to recognize rights at home, while learning from the diversity and power how knowledge flows in all directions, including South to of traditionally marginalized voices throughout the Global North and South to South. One way to do this is to promote South. The time has come to rethink development. Southern communities developing their own standards and having a larger voice in fair trade. Rethinking fair trade Another way is to expand fair trade’s “origin” trips as an Rethinking development also means rethinking fair trade, alternative to conventional abroad experiences, which have which both conforms to conventional development and been criticized for sending people, often young students, with offers us alternative pathways. Fair trade standards have little specialized skills to “help” communities. Instead, with traditionally been developed and audited through a process origin trips, people from the North are given the opportunity dominated by Western organizers and consumers. This has to learn from Southern communities, their knowledge and led to many critiques of fair trade, including that the onerous lives, in a manner that, at least ideally, can affirm all of our and expansive criteria for certification is often not matched responsibilities for this world we live in.


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Second, the need to reframe fair trade also entails rethinking life at home. In Canada, this can involve greater attention to national injustices, asking what fair traders can do to work in solidarity with indigenous communities or temporary migrant workers. It can entail greater focus on the work of Canadian co-ops that have charted alternative models for social justice and been leaders in fair trade and trade among co-ops.


While fair trade has focused on Northern companies, little has been done to explore grassroots links between workers in those companies and fair trade producers.

It also can involve taking lessons from the Global South. The concept of Buen Vivir, for instance, has become popular in Latin America to capture diverse indigenous concepts around the “good life.” According to Uruguayan environmental thinker and activist Eduardo Gudynas, the term challenges classical Western development theory by recognizing “that well-being is only possible within a community” in “cohabitation with others and Nature.” Third, rethinking fair trade can entail greater attention to the lives of workers, globally, who have long been neglected by fair trade standards. Recognizing this, Fairtrade International is participating in the Global Living Wage Coalition, exploring how to bring living wages into its standards. But there is much still to be done. Still neglected by fair trade is the lives of urban workers, in restaurants, retail stores, or throughout the supply chain, who frequently lack collective bargaining rights and living wages. While fair trade has focused on Northern companies, little has been done to explore grassroots links between workers in those companies and fair trade producers. This unexamined gap for potential solidarity is bound to become more significant as Southern nations emerge as leading consumers. Coffee & Cocoa International reports that by some estimates, 50 percent of the world’s coffee could be consumed in emerging markets by 2020.

Finally, there is the issue of price. While fair trade offers a minimum floor price, robust debate around what price is ultimately required for a more just world has faded. Yet, in the coffee industry, I would argue, it’s a public secret that no project, including fair trade, offers a price high enough for farmers and workers to make a living income. Rather than finding new ways to expand and clarify standards, what Southern partners need most of all is a higher price. In my own work, I have argued that the global market cannot deliver this price, and that some form of public price regulation is required. Whatever mechanism is chosen, raising the prices paid to all farmers is often a priority of Southern partners and should be a priority of the global fair trade movement. The shifting terrain of the development agenda offers many challenges, but also opportunities to rethink fair trade in a way that is more responsive to new insights and a changing global landscape. A vision of fair trade solidarity can expand who is involved in fair trade while reversing traditional, colonial ways of thinking and helping to build foundations for a truly global partnership. Gavin Fridell is a Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. He is the author of numerous articles and books including Coffee and Alternative Trade.



growing change

Rice: Feeding Millions BY K IM BER LY LEU NG


hen you look at the tiny grains that make up a bowl of rice, it might be hard to imagine how this basic dish can have such a big impact on the world. At its simplest, rice is a food that's enjoyed by cultures everywhere. It can be fried, flavoured, added to soups or stews, eaten as a main course or a side. But to many, this crop is more than just a humble meal; it’s a means to survival. Rice supplies close to half of the calories consumed by the entire human race. A total of 520 million people in Asia depend on it as their main source of nutrition. This demand, combined

with the poverty and vulnerability of rice’s biggest consumers, underscores the importance of this commodity to the global village. For instance, during the 2008 food crisis, the uptick in the cost of rice pushed 100 million people under the poverty line.

The pains of rice production Although it's a major economic driver in many Asian countries, with over 200 million farms, growing rice is far from lucrative. Farmers are up against a host of challenges in their efforts to produce a profitable harvest. Without

opportunities to develop their skills, many rice farmers are unaware of agricultural techniques that can help improve their yields. And education is only the first step. Limited financial resources keep farmers from easily accessing better equipment, seeds, and fertilizer. Price volatility also makes it difficult for farmers to support themselves and their families. The plight of rice farmers in Thailand, India, Myanmar, and other Asian countries is well documented. These farmers, often trapped in cycles of debt, face catastrophic financial consequences when falling prices or low yields prevent them from meeting their obligations. Some are forced to compromise their futures by taking out additional loans at even higher interest rates. Others are forced to sell their rice fields. Work i n g w it h a fa i r t r a de organization can provide solutions to some of these issues. A guaranteed minimum price helps provide financial stability for rice farmers and their families. Fair trade initiatives can help farmers share knowledge about better farming techniques, build long-term partnerships, and grow rice without exploiting the earth. However, fair trade rice represents only a tiny fraction of total rice volumes. Of over 426 million tonnes of milled rice produced worldwide on a yearly basis, only 12,000 tonnes were sold on Fairtrade terms between 2013 and 2014.

A lack of choices If you’ve ever tried to buy fair trade rice in Canada, you would have found your options limited. Specialty shops may carry only a few varieties of organic and Chatrawee 1 4 | F AWiratgasem I R T R A D / M A G A Z I N E ¡ C A N A D A’ S V O I C E F O R S O C I A L S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

ethically produced rice—with even fewer fair trade–certified options. Sarah Dobec, marketing manager for the Big Carrot, a natural foods grocery in Toronto, says that grocery buyers are limited to the narrow selection of ethical rice currently available. She also says, “There doesn't seem to be a consistent certification for fair trade rice like we see on other products, like chocolate, for example.” Why hasn’t fair trade rice taken off? Consumers today are sophisticated and socially conscious, and many actively seek options that are ethical and environmentally friendly. Jose Abad-Puelles of Fairtrade Canada, agrees, saying he believes that there is a market for fairly traded rice. So why the disconnect between product and purchaser? Abad-Puelles thinks that importers are simply not aware of a demand for fair trade rice. But the issue lies beyond encouraging customers to make requests to their local grocers. At this time, Fairtradecertified rice is not available in Canada.

Looking ahead Global demand for rice is expected to increase in the coming decades to keep pace with a growing population. But given its expertise with coffee, cocoa, and bananas, Fairtrade International is understandably focused on those flagship products. In a recent report outlining its global strategy, the organization details plans to continue emphasizing these commodities in the years to come. Compared to Latin America, fair trade in Asia is still in its infancy. The region had 200 Fairtrade-certified producer organizations for the first time in 2015, and coffee was its most lucrative product. It’s clear that major hurdles stand in the way of bringing rice to a similar position as coffee or chocolate in terms of fair trade options. Given these circumstances, perhaps it is already a sign of success that fair trade rice is being produced at all. How can we help make fair trade rice more accessible? Start by encouraging your local shops to stock more varieties and brands of ethical rice—including products that bear the Fairtrade Mark. Although it's undeniable that fair trade rice is a long way off from becoming mainstream in Canada, it’s a task worth taking on. Where challenges exist, so do opportunities to make a meaningful difference.

Organic fairtrade roasted in canada

Kimberly Leung is a Toronto-based freelance writer with special interest in sustainable and ethical living. Her previous contributions to Fair Trade Magazine include “Finding Alternatives to Fast Fashion,” which appears in the Summer / Fall 2017 issue.




Abbie Trayler Smith / Oxfam



aria is one of 50,000 workers picking tea during rainy season on Mount Mulanje, home to Malawi’s 128-yearold tea industry. Unlike most other tea workers around the world, Maria’s plantation provides housing and a long-term contract. But her pay is extremely low, and leaves her and her family living below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line. Maria would need to earn nearly twice her current wage just to meet her family’s basic needs. It’s no better for the women in developing countries who make clothes for big brand name companies. Women like 25-year-old Anju in Bangladesh toil away in unsafe working conditions for poverty wages. The clothing factory she works for in Dhaka pays just 37 cents an hour. Even if she works long hours for six days a week, she can only make up to $107 a month. No matter how hard Anju works, her meagre pay is not enough to cover the basics. Her family is spiraling into debt. Maria and Anju’s stories are unfortunately not unique. Women around the world are getting an unfair deal at work. As consumers who buy the goods these hardworking women produce, we all have a responsibility to demand more from our governments and from the companies they work so hard for.

Start with women’s rights Oxfam Canada believes the solution to ending extreme poverty around the world must begin with advancing women’s rights and gender equality. Our research highlights the extent to which women are being exploited in their workplaces. Sexism affects the jobs women have access to, the money they earn, and the way society values their work. Fewer women are employed than men, and women who do find jobs are too often rewarded not with independence and empowerment, but with poverty wages, unequal pay, and insecure jobs. Globally, women earn on average 23 percent less than men do. In Asia and Africa, three quarters of women work without a secure contract. Even in the poorest communities—where poverty wages are a reality for men and women alike—women perform a disproportionate share of unpaid care work by looking after children, the sick, and the aging. Women do up to 10 times more of this domestic work than men. If you put a value on all the unpaid care work women do around the world, it would be worth a whopping $10 trillion annually. It is no wonder the majority of people living in poverty around the world are women.

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A feminist solution Pushed by consumer pressure and civil society action, governments are slowly responding with policies that focus on women’s rights. Canada recently launched its Feminist International Assistance Policy, committing to spend 15 percent of aid on projects that specifically target gender equality, and at least 80 percent on those that incorporate gender equality in at least one aspect. A feminist approach to foreign policy is key to helping Canada contribute to progress on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which the world has committed to meet by the year 2030. Goal 5 focuses on the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and includes targets such as ending violence against women and girls and increasing women’s political representation and equal rights in the economy. A feminist foreign policy will help Canada drive progress on this important goal, but will also pay dividends across the other goals as well. Just how effective Ottawa’s feminist approach will be in supporting progress on the SDGs remains to be seen. But a new emphasis on women’s rights and gender equality in foreign policy is a welcome first step.

Closing the gender gap Fair trade plays an important role in closing the gender gap. Oxfam has been a leading supporter of fairer trade with farmers and producers around the world since the early 1960s. Our efforts to contribute to this movement include setting up shops to sell fair trade products in Europe, supporting the development of Bridgehead coffee shops in Ontario, and running the global Make Trade Fair campaign in the early 2000s. Recognizing that it is often women who bear the brunt of unfair trade, our work prioritizes helping women workers and farmers get a better deal from corporations and governments. To help workers like Maria in Malawi, a coalition led by Ethical Tea Partnership and Oxfam advocates for sustainable and decent work practices, as well as credible living wage standards for Malawian tea pickers. The coalition works closely with Malawian industry, the Ministry of Labour, tea retailers, wage experts, unions, certifiers, and NGOs to improve worker representation in the process of setting fair

GMB Akash Panos / Oxfam

wages. Bringing together different stakeholders is an effective way to make work fairer for employees. Oxfam is also asking governments to ensure that trade agreements work for women. Canada has made progress on this, with a new push for gender chapters in future trade deals. When the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement was recently updated, a new section established an agreement between the countries to work together to ensure women’s unique needs are taken into account. While gender chapters are certainly a great start, women who are adversely affected by unfair trade deals still have no way to raise their concerns and have them addressed. Trade agreements must be developed in an open and transparent way to ensure organizations that advocate for women’s rights can have a say at the negotiating table. There must also be a way to hold Canadian companies accountable for their impacts on human rights when they operate abroad.

How you can help You can also help end the exploitation of women in workplaces around the world. Demand that your politicians follow through on promises to make things better. Do your homework as a consumer, and spend your hard-earned money on goods and services from companies that pay fair wages, provide job security and benefits, and allow workers to organize to advocate for their rights. Whether we’re voting at the ballot box or with our wallets, we can all play a role in transforming the economic system that traps women in a vicious cycle of poverty. We can and must demand better. Francesca Rhodes is a women’s rights policy and advocacy specialist at Oxfam Canada.



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on the ground

Reforestation: Strengthening Ecosystems and the Livelihoods of Small-Scale Farmers BY MON IK A FIR L

IN 2007, WHEN TAKING ROOT CO-FOUNDER Kahlil Baker first proposed a community-led native species reforestation project at San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua, getting farmers interested was not easy. The region had been suffering recurring drought and increasing land degradation, and people were reluctant to invest time, energy, and resources to prepare their land for reforestation. They were concerned the seedlings would not survive, and they weren’t convinced of the potential benefits. But with a bit of persistence, the farmers stepped up, and positive results created a wave of interest.



From the onset of its reforestation work, Taking Root has looked to satisfy the environmental challenge by improving people’s livelihoods and providing an economic safety net in the wake of climate disturbances.

“We should be looking at reforestation as a solution to a social problem.”

“We used to act like the forest was our enemy—burning and abusing the land,” recalled Luis Manuel Suarez, whose father was an initial participant in Taking Root’s program. “But now people take much more care. Slash-and-burn practices have stopped altogether, and instead of cutting down a tree for firewood, people are strategically trimming back branches.” I spoke to Manuel Suarez and other farmers this past October, when our team from CoopCoffees visited San Juan de Limay to learn about reforestation and exchange knowledge with local farmers—and our Fairtrade coffee–producing partners from across Latin America. Deforestation is one of the primary environmental issues facing Nicaragua. Spurred by uncontrolled expansion of livestock farming, unsustainable agriculture practices, and rapid population growth, deforestation between 1990 and 2010 is estimated to have claimed more than 1.4 million hectares, or 31 percent, of previous forest cover. “Reforestation is considered a solution to an environmental issue,” Baker said. “But in truth, we should be looking at this as a solution to a social problem. The root cause of deforestation is people in the pursuit of improving their standard of living.”

Trees are much more resilient to extreme weather than crops. So even if droughts, storms, or floods damage or destroy a crop, the trees can provide income when farmers need it most. Taking Root’s project supports reforestation from the grassroots up, getting local farmers to take ownership of creating and protecting healthy forests, while the technical team calculates the biomass of carbon captured in the trees and root systems with a complex, yet impressively userfriendly, mobile technology. “Our planting has to take into account the ecological criteria, but also the economic needs of the producers,” Baker said. “We need market incentives to facilitate reforestation, so this approach of managed forestry has to produce some kind of market-ready product on a regular basis. If we followed the model of traditional reforestation, it could take between 30 to 50 years before the producers receive any financial benefit

Local forests, local trees The local species mandagual, caoba (mahogany), madero negro, pochote, and genizaro are the preferred choices for reforestation in San Juan de Limay. Farmers want to plant trees that can re-establish ecological balance on the land and provide high value in the local market as timber, while also being effective for carbon sequestration.

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from the harvest of trees. So to make this economically viable for small-scale farmers, we’ve secured carbon credits to cover some costs in the initial stages.” Ten years after the project’s launch, things look quite different in San Juan de Limay. The reforested lands have created microclimates that have transformed dry lands to lush forest, ready for thinning. To date, there are more than 700 hectares under managed reforestation, and the visible results and economic benefits have changed the local mindset. With a kaleidoscope of native varietals, the Taking Root team will produce finished wood products, such as cutting boards, salad servers, boxes, and even small pieces of furniture, for sale in local and—eventually—international markets.

CoopCoffees and Taking Root The learning exchange, part of our Carbon, Climate, and Coffee initiative, provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the balance between collaborating with local communities and staying linked to international movements striving for climate and economic justice. The work was both grassroots focused and plugged-in, employing sophisticated digital tools for designing and monitoring reforestation ef for ts, a nd ca lcu lating ca rbon sequestration. From a CoopCoffees perspective, we were able to successfully demonstrate another opportunity for fair trade organizations to diversify revenue and deepen the benefits to their producer members. “I’m really happy to have learned something new here,” said Tomas Iván Aranda, a participating agronomist from Cenfrocafe, a Fairtrade-certified coffee co-op based in Peru. “I now see more clearly the multiple benefits that reforestation can bring—both in

What trees do Healthy forests in both rural and urban settings provide a multitude of environmental services. In introductory biology, we learn that trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon in their tissue and root systems, while releasing the oxygen back into the air through photosynthesis. But trees are capable of so much more! They absorb odours and pollutant gases, and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Trees create microclimates, cooling hot spots with their shade and releasing water vapour into the air with leaf respiration. Trees help prevent soil erosion by softening the impact of rain and preventing water runoff. Their root systems work with soil microbiology to re-establish soil structure, and absorb, filter, and recharge groundwater. Trees provide food and canopy for wildlife and people. And trees can be selectively harvested to create buildings, crafts, and other products, providing people with local livelihoods and, since time eternal, fuel for cooking and warmth. Yet despite the myriad of benefits trees provide, the deforestation suffered around the world is astonishing. According to the World Wildlife Fund, some 12.6 million hectares of forest are lost every year.



Monitoring: The key to the success Instead of filling notebooks with measurements from the field, returning to the office, and entering data into computers, the monitoring team generates growth results in real time, side by side with producers. With mobile technology, the Taking Root monitoring team can load tree measurement data directly to the cloud. The system

the short and the long term, and that includes a potentially diversified and more stable income.” “During this exchange, I learned about everything that lies behind the term ‘carbon capture,’ from the farmer’s field to the final product,” said Angélica de la Paz López, agronomist and organic promoter from Maya Vinic, a Fairtrade coffeegrowing co-op from Chiapas, Mexico. “We can’t miss the boat on this; coffee is an agroforestry crop, and we need to talk about the added value of producing this way. I don’t mean in only economic terms but in better understanding all the benefits that come with good agroforestry design.” Over the course of the project, Taking Root has facilitated the planting of 2.2 million trees, the creation of more than 1,200 local jobs annually, and the distribution of US$1.9 million in environmental service fees paid to small-scale farmers and their communities. The success of this project speaks to the potential for similar projects in other regions, especially those struggling with the effects of climate change.

calculates the amount of carbon captured by each tree and generates comparative growth results. These results determine

Monika Firl is director of sustainability at CoopCoffees. Her stories about leaf

whether or not producers meet growth and carbon capture

rust in Latin America and soil renewal in Ethiopia appear in past issues of Fair

targets—and collect environmental service payments.

Trade Magazine.




9:53 AM





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We passionately work to promote Certified Organic and Fair Trade by building relationships with small scale farmers here at home, as well as abroad. Over the years, our procurement team has extended our relationships to develop a network of growers along the Pacific Coast, from British Columbia to Chile.

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Can Tourism Be a New Frontier for Fair Trade? BY LOÏC DE FA BR ITUS


hen we talk about fair trade, we generally think of an exchange of goods produced in the Global South and consumed in the North. However, the tourism industry is a significant economic sector that’s often overlooked. Market researchers estimate that international tourism accounted for 1.2 billion trips in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year, and representing more than 10 percent of global GDP. And Canadians really are frequent flyers, spending over $37 billion on more than 32 million trips a year. In 2015, almost 5 million Canadians visited Mexico and the Caribbean. This number is also increasing. But what place can fair trade have in this growing industry?

The effects of mass tourism The explosion of international tourism over the last few decades has not been without damage to host countries, affecting the environment and cultural heritage of local populations. A small number of powerful Western tour operators have imposed their rules, prices, and often marketing standards on host countries and local service providers, as well as tourists. And while tourism can be an important source of revenue for emerging economies, the distribution of economic benefits isn’t reaching everyone. The growth of the travel industry has generated many other negative effects: unsuitable working conditions, exploitation of children, sex tourism, destruction of ecosystems and degradation of cultural heritage. The consequences of mass tourism can be devastating for host communities.

Alternatives to mass tourism Sustainable tourism Since the late 1990s, and in the wake of the Brundtland Report published by the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development, the concept of sustainable tourism has grown in popularity. The UN’s World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities.”

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Trade. The charter describes fair tourism as a set of activities and services developed alongside indigenous host communities and offered by tour operators to responsible travellers. The charter also mandates that hosts manage, define, and evaluate fair tourism services and activities, and share their benefits among the local population.

Three pillars of fair tourism

For more and more tourists, travelling differently today has become an imperative. It’s not just about going off the beaten track; it’s about having a positive, long-term impact on local communities and the environment. Ecotourism and solidarity tourism Ecotourism, also known as green tourism, centres on a traveller’s experience with the environment. Ecotourists aim to limit the footprint of their trip and discover local plants, animals, and landscapes. Because ecotourists often visit areas protected for their natural beauty, unique ecosystems, or cultural importance, ecotourism can bolster the economies of destination communities, and motivate local governments to protect more areas. Solidarity tourism is based on respect for people, cultures, and nature. Solidarity tourists aim to directly benefit the destination country by spending money at local businesses— rather than international corporations. Solidarity tourists seek to learn from their hosts, and try to connect with them to better understand their perspectives of local history, culture, and resources. Some solidarity tourists also dedicate part of their travelling budget to local development projects.

What is fair tourism? It’s clear that the principles of fair trade are relevant for the tourism industry. But what is fair tourism? The concept of fair tourism intersects with ecotourism and solidarity tourism, moving toward an ethical alternative that respects local populations and environments. A charter of fair tourism was developed in France in the early 2000s, at the initiative of the French Platform for Fair

Fair tourism is the result of harmony between people, their cultures, and the environment. To meet these commitments, fair tourism is based on three pillars: fair trade, international solidarity, and social economy. Applied to tourism, fair trade establishes a balanced partnership between a tour operator and its local partners. It is key that operators pay their partners fairly, so tourism can be an opportunity to generate additional income, and not burden communities and the environment. International solidarity means considering and understanding inequalities between countries in order to seek solutions in consultation with the benefiting communities. For instance, governments and organizations can show solidarity by funding international development projects led by the communities who stand to benefit from them. The solidarity traveller becomes a link in this chain by favouring local providers when abroad—restaurants, transportation, craftspeople, accommodation, and more. The social economy is an innovative entrepreneurial approach that promotes social benefits over economic profits. Thanks to a collective, fair, and democratic model, the social economy generates profits that are reinvested first and foremost in projects of social utility. For a tour operator to be considered fair, it should be an active part of the social economy, balancing its economic performance and social utility. A fair tour operator also needs to maintain transparent relationships with its clients and partners, assuring them that its commitment to the social economy goes beyond marketing.

Voluntourism Fair tourism isn’t voluntourism, a label that’s often attached to “humanitarian” trips sold through travel agencies. These trips involve travelling to a country in the Global South and living for a few weeks in a disadvantaged community and helping with development projects. Voluntourism has been criticized in the media for its lack of transparency and long-term benefit to communities. It also reinforces the white savior cliché and a neocolonial vision of development aid, undermining legitimate programs like Québec sans frontières internships

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Tourism can be an opportunity to generate additional income and not burden communities and the environment. and other efforts to introduce people to development projects that emphasize community benefits and mutual learning over traveller experience.

Guarantees for fair tourism? The principles look promising, yet it’s hard to know where to turn when it comes to organizing a fair holiday. Unlike fair trade coffee or bananas, there are no internationally recognized labels for fair tourism. But there are some examples of national initiatives that can inspire us. In France, the Association for Fair and Solidarity Tourism was created in 2006. It brings together tour operators, support organizations, and associate members, all committed to making travel a lever for development and international solidarity. This association has created a label, the Fair and Solidarity Tourism Guarantee, with an evaluation system based on a set of criteria and indicators, organized around three main axes: partnerships with host communities, commitments to local development, and travellers’ awareness, transparency, and communication. In Belgium, the Trade for Development Centre supports several projects in fair tourism. Among these, an African organization has developed its own certification system called Fair Trade Tourism, which is based on a criteria aimed at ensuring fairness in working conditions and wages, as well as in operations, purchasing, and distributing profits through ethical business practices and the respect for human rights, culture, and the environment. Without a definitive label or certification, it is up to us as travellers to plan our holidays in ways that respect the communities we visit and the cultures and lands we experience. Applying the principles of fair trade to tourism isn’t always simple, yet it’s possible. With a bit of careful planning, you can ensure your next trip makes a positive impact on the world.

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Loïc de Fabritus is the project manager for the Association québécoise du commerce equitable (AQCE) and a member of the CFTN’s board of directors. This story originally appears in French on AQCE’s website.





fair trade programs update FA I R T R A D E D E S I G N AT I O N S












FA I R TR A D E E VE N TS I N 2017



Fair Trade in the 'Peg BY M EGA N R EDMON D


n September 29, 2017, after an almost three-year campaign, Winnipeg became Canada’s 25th Fair Trade Town and the world’s 2,000th. The designation process started in 2014 when Zack Gross from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) asked a group of Winnipeggers to form a steering committee with the goal of designating and maintaining Winnipeg as a Fair Trade Town. During the campaign, the steering committee kept busy, working with community groups, local retailers and restaurants, and the City of Winnipeg. They organized numerous fair trade events, including the National Fair Trade Conference in February 2016 and, with MCIC, a trip to Peru in April 2016 to visit fair trade producers. The steering committee also helped designate many Fair Trade events, workplaces, and

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schools throughout the city, and steadily promoted fair trade with presentations and displays. While the process took longer than expected, the steering committee wanted to earn the city’s designation and, at the same time, establish solid groundwork for maintaining it. “We have taken the time to develop a strong foundation for our designation with which to build upon for years to come,” said Lindsay Mierau, City of Winnipeg environmental coordinator a nd Fa i r Trade Wi n n ipeg cit y representative. “Now that Winnipeg is known as a Fair Trade Town, new initiatives and opportunities are presenting themselves, so the future looks bright!” Megan Redmond is a communication specialist at the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation and part of the Fair Trade Winnipeg Steering Committee.

Orange You Glad It’s a Fairtrade Banana? BY TOR RY E MCK ENZIE


ast January, Concordia University, in Montreal, Quebec, became the first campus in Canada to offer only Fairtradecertified bananas. After a week-long promotion to spread awareness about this major accomplishment, the campus community responded positively to the switch, especially when they learned about the benefits of Fairtrade certification for producers in the Global South. Vanessa D’Antico, Concordia’s health, wellness and sustainability manager, explains: “Fair trade banana producers are paid a fair wage and an additional US$1 for every case, which funds community projects that support education, health care, senior citizens, the environment, and local infrastructure.”

Small Actions Lead to Big Changes


hen the Fair Trade Steering Committee at Olds High School in Olds, Alberta, bought 25 Fairtrade-certified

T-shirts for its Junior A girls volleyball team, they felt like they were making a small but important choice. But their purchase had a ripple effect. First, the school’s Environment

All of Concordia’s bananas are imported from an organization of 320 small-scale banana growers in southwest Ecuador. Before making the switch, the campus needed to make sure they could get a constant supply of bananas. They determined how many cases they sold every week and drew up a plan for efficient distribution. Concordia coordinated its banana switch with its main food service provider, Aramark, who orders its Fairtrade-certified bananas from Equifruit.

and Fair Trade Club ordered T-shirts for members to wear at an

If you want to get Fairtrade bananas on your campus, touch base with Discovery Organics (in Western Canada) or Equifruit (in Eastern Canada), and work with your campus food service company to establish your volume requirements.

Olds High ordered its Fairtrade T-shirts from Green Campus

upcoming provincial celebration of environmental education, and then the Olds High School Interact Club bought 60 more, bringing the total to 120. “When we reflect on this experience,” said Bev Toews, Olds High staff member and steering committee representative, ”we are encouraged and motivated by the fact that one small effort can lead to significant change and awareness.”

Cooperative. Learn more at Torrye McKenzie is the CFTN's Fair Trade program manager.




Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies and Butterscotch Squares BY ER IN BIR D


nspired by the Fair Trade Bake Sale, held at campuses and communities across North America last fall, these recipes, Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies and Butterscotch Squares, bring together all that is right about baking: butter, chocolate, and sugar. And using Fairtrade ingredients makes these treats a little sweeter.

Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup butter 1 bar Fairtrade dark chocolate (I chose a bar with 85 percent cocoa) 1/2 cup Fairtrade sugar 1 tsp vanilla (Fairtrade, if you can find it) 2 eggs ½ cup Fairtrade chocolate chips (optional) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add Fairtrade dark chocolate bar, stirring until melted. Mix in Fairtrade sugar, vanilla, eggs, and then flour mixture. Add chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square pan and spread it evenly. Bake on centre rack at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes till top is firm but not hard. Cool and cut into squares.

For fudgier brownies, beat the eggs until light and fluffy

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Once the squares cool, cut them into bite-sized pieces and serve. If you make both recipes, store leftovers in a well-sealed container. You can keep them in the freezer or close at hand on your kitchen counter—right next to the fruit bowl. In your freezer, the squares should last a couple of months. On your counter, they might last a couple of hours.

Butterscotch Squares 1/2 cup butter 2 cups Fairtrade brown sugar 2 eggs 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp vanilla (Fairtrade, if you can find it) 1 cup Fairtrade chocolate chips

Add butter and brown sugar to a saucepan and stir over low heat until butter melts and combines with sugar. Remove from heat. Add eggs and sift in flour, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla. Mix in chocolate chips. Spread mixture evenly in an 8-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a testing toothpick comes out clean. Erin Bird is leading the campaign to designate Calgary as a Fair Trade Town. She is a member of CFTN's board of directors.



book review

How Change Happens By Duncan Green Oxford University Press, 2016 288 pages, $28.99 ISBN: 978-0-19878-539-2 R E V IE W BY Z ACK GROSS


fter years of researching and w riting about pover t y a nd injustice, Duncan Green joined Oxfam in 2004, first as head of research and currently as Oxfam Great Britain’s senior strategic adviser. He is also professor in practice in international development at the London School of Economics. I am a long-time NGO activist who more recently was pulled into the halls of academia, at least in a small way. Both of us are examples of the effort being made by these two sectors to combine forces: the information and analysis afforded by research and higher learning with the passion and action of advocacy. How Change Happens focuses on social change and how it comes about in our world, fostered by a diverse number of actors, from small community-based committees to governments, businesses, and the United Nations. The book also offers important advice on how to create change, based on Green’s numerous personal experiences around the world. I began reading this book with some trepidation because how-to books often suggest one-size-fits-all solutions that fail in the uniqueness of each human situation. As well, I am wary of organizations that claim to have all the solutions for changing systems and eliminating power imbalances. I’m not sure that any one theory or methodology works for all situations or that any one organization’s approach is better than others.

As my reading continued, my enthusiasm for this book gathered momentum. Green combines ideas around systems and power while acknowledging that many of our Western campaigns against poverty and other global ills have been hampered by our self-centred ideas and lack of respect for the aspirations and cultural ways of our Southern partners. He takes issue with the idea of best practices—best for whom? he asks. He looks at the Make Poverty History campaign as one example of our own arrogance in encapsulating world problems into a 14-word slogan, using celebrities to drive the process, and focusing on global processes from only a Northern point of view, while ignoring the unique national factors that impact Southern countries. This parallels the shortcomings of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which sought buyin from the North and put the South in a more passive position. The UN’s recent Sustainable Development Goals move past such limited thinking and see all countries, North and South, as having equal global responsibility. What is most relevant in How Change Happens for the fair trade movement is Green’s discussion of his work on trade at the international level, his involvement in ethical consumer campaigns, and his overtures to “unconventional allies” such as the corporate community. Green admits that he has become more sympathetic to companies that

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are trying to be socially responsible. He describes how he pitched ethical consumerism to one corporate boss, using the self-interest message of how this person’s company would ultimately be more popular and make more money, only to be told by the confused executive that he just wants to contribute to a better world for future generations. Green also offers case studies from his experiences in the Global South, describing his work with groups of workers—including women workers— as they organized and effected change. He is quick to point out that we in the North can learn much from Southern producers. Certainly this has been in evidence at our national fair trade conferences, where our producerspeakers have been the most moving, most instructive, and most inspiring. Green tells us that activists from the South and North need to learn how power works, how to change the balance of social and economic power to our side. He instructs activists to learn how to navigate complex combinations of power struggles and crises—elections, debates, conflicts, natural disasters, business deals—and find opportunities within these events to make progress. He believes that change happens as a result of informed experiments, conducted by activists who are willing to learn through failure. He recommends seeking ongoing and timely feedback and making decisions that accord with your principles, guided not by best practices or tool kits, but rather by well-established rules of thumb that leave room for flexible and opportunistic action. Zack Gross is outreach coordinator for Fair Trade Manitoba and a member of Fairtrade Canada’s board. He is a former chair of the CFTN board of directors.


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Fair Trade Magazine - Winter/Spring 2018 Edition  
Fair Trade Magazine - Winter/Spring 2018 Edition