At Matthew Algie, we have always championed Fairtrade. For almost 25 years, we have been sourcing coffee from Fairtrade cooperatives around the world, ensuring our coffee farmers receive a fair wage and feel empowered to take more control over their lives.
Since we launched the UK’s first Fairtrade espresso in 1997, we have contributed over £6million in Fairtrade Premium for coffee growing communities. The Fairtrade Premium is a sum of money that workers and farmers receive in addition to the price received for their labour and produce.
Farmers and workers decide themselves how to use the Premium to improve social, economic and environmental conditions. There are thousands of positive ways Fairtrade has helped many coffee growing groups, but let’s take a look at one of our producers, COOMAP in Brazil. Here are just six ways they used their Premium to improve productivity, health and education within their community.
1.Coffee Farm Technical Support
COOMAP set up a technical department that offers completely free assistance to its members. Through thorough crop analysis, the productivity and quality of the farmers’ crop can be improved, which in turn improves output and farmer incomes.
2. First Aid lessons made available to those in rural neighbourhoods
Participants learned the basics of first aid for drowning, heart attacks, convulsions, burns, animal bites and other common accidents. Over one hundred men, women and teenagers were able to benefit from this important training.
3. Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness
Every year, COOMAP organises a ‘Pink October’ meeting to raise awareness of breast cancer and to provide guidance on how to conduct a self-examination. Then in November COOMAP runs ‘Blue October’, which raises awareness of prostate cancer risks to educate men on the condition.
4.Education for Young People
Members’ children have the opportunity of visiting university Innovation Technology Fairs and other similar events to promote the progress of young people in rural areas.
COOMAP also offers members’ children and grandchildren a free three-year English course.
4. Health Fair and Community Development
Every year COOMAP organises a health fair for around 500 coop members and their families. During the event, there is a ceremony to celebrate gratefulness of the harvest, as well as several health promoting activities. This brings the community together as well as promotes good health.
COOMAP has also acquired an abandoned sports court which will be converted into a cultural, sports, education and social centre for the whole community.
6. Income Generation Project
COOMAP introduced a series of practical courses that teach members and their families new skills to increase their income. This diversification means their living won’t be solely reliant on coffee. Some of the courses included
- Dairy product making
- Cakes, cookies and bread making
- Making handcrafted souvenirs
- Fruit pulp preparation
These are just some of the great social and technical initiatives COOMAP have put in place all because of the Fairtrade Premium they receive. It all sounds positive, but how do we know these activities have had a significant impact on the individuals and their families?
A study was conducted by Viçosa Federal University who interviewed over 10% of the members at their farms. They found that over 31% of members said their lives had improved a little since their Fairtrade certification, and over 58% said it had improved a lot.
Keep an eye on our blog throughout the next two weeks as we’ll be looking more into how Fairtrade impacts coffee-growing communities.