Fairtrade Fortnight Round-Up
As 'Fortnight' comes to a close, the campaign to tackle the climate crisis continues...
Cat Rayner, Partner Marketing Manager, Fairtrade Foundation
What’s Fairtrade got to do with the Climate Crisis?
The climate crisis is the biggest threat to the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and agricultural workers in low-income countries worldwide. Without a fairer income, farmers and workers are unable to invest in the types of mitigation and adaptation techniques needed to protect the environment, and their businesses. This represents a vicious cycle of poverty in which steps towards environmental protection and decarbonisation are likely to be beyond the reach for those who aren’t even able to earn a living income because the price they receive for their produce is far too low.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2022
Fairtrade Fortnight 2022 (21st February – 6th March) was an opportunity to show solidarity with those on the frontline of the climate crisis. COP26 didn’t deliver the change needed to stay within 1.5 degrees, nor did it secure finance to directly support farmers and workers on the frontline, but the Fairtrade Foundation believes there is hope if we all act together. Fairtrade Fortnight was an opportunity for individuals, communities, and businesses across the UK to stand with farmers in low-income countries who are impacted daily by climate change. Together, we can all ensure farmers benefit from fairer prices, fairer trading practices and the resources needed for tackling the climate emergency. Fairtrade’s Choose the World You Want Festival returned for a second year and featured a series of virtual events designed to engage, inform and educate people around the urgent message of Fairtrade and climate change, the future of our food and those who produce it.
How Fairtrade is Tackling Climate Issues
Coffee farming is getting harder as a changing climate brings extreme and unpredictable weather, more pests and faster-spreading diseases. By 2050, as much as 50 percent of the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable. The rise in extreme weather emergencies has been disastrous for coffee farmers in recent years. 2020’s hurricane season in the Americas was the worst on record. Storm Eta alone is estimated to have reduced Nicaraguan coffee crops by up to 30 percent1, while Storm Iota destroyed vital infrastructure used by coffee producers in Honduras and Guatemala – a devastating blow for farmers.
As Bayardo Betanco, a Fairtrade farmer at the Prodecoop coffee co-operative in Nicaragua, says:
"There is a chain on earth that starts where the producers are. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of climate change, the ones who get the least help, and carry all of the burden. It’s not fair."
Fairtrade is committed to fighting the climate crisis. Fairtrade Standards encourage producers to protect the environment by improving soil, planting trees, conserving water and avoiding pesticides, while Fairtrade’s programmes include Climate Academies for farmers to share best practice. At the same time, Fairtrade’s Producer Networks (Fairtrade’s unique on-the-ground support) make training available to farmers. For example, in the last two years, Fairtrade Africa has led training in Good Agricultural Practices, Sustainable Agricultural Land Management, and Climate Change Awareness and Sensitisation, reaching over 9,000 coffee households. Through this work, Fairtrade co-operatives have set up 15 wetlands, 73 demo-plots, 58 coffee and shade tree nursery sites. They’ve installed 424 solar panels and 17 solar coffee driers have been installed, and over 700,000 coffee and shade trees.
1 CLAC (November 2020), Report on the impact of Hurricane Eta, http://clac-comerciojusto.org/en/2020/11/report-on-the-impact-of-hurricane-eta-in-central-america/
Working initially with Fairtrade coffee co-operatives in Kenya and Ethiopia to test ideas, Fairtrade developed a Climate Guide to support other Fairtrade coffee farmers to take inspiration and advice from each other about ways to keep growing through the climate crisis. For example, introducing new plant varieties resistant to drought, pruning, reforestation and soil management. Twenty thousand households in Kenya and Ethiopia have already felt the benefits, with projects such as tree planting, irrigation, crop diversification and clean energy.
In Kenya, Fairtrade coffee farmer Judy Ruto, from the Kipkelion co-operative, is feeling energised to take action to keep the household fed using her experience of the Climate Academy: ‘Around us we see fields where the young maize has already dried out. Even if it starts raining soon, the harvest is ruined. Maize is our staple food crop and for many families a failed maize harvest means real hunger. Luckily with the help of the co-operative and the Climate Academy we are better prepared for these types of conditions’. Judy adds that the family has bought chickens, and the next thing they’ll buy will be a cow. ‘We need it for milk and manure for the biogas installation and for natural fertiliser.’
Despite having done the least to cause climate change, farmers in low-income countries are working to reduce their emissions as much as possible. In Ethiopia, the Oromia Fairtrade co-operative has purchased biogas stoves, equipping 10,000 coffee farmers with efficient cookstoves that reduce carbon emissions by up to 70 percent.
In Honduras, coffee farmers from the COCASJOL co-operative have been running reforestation projects, planting tens of thousands of trees with the support of the Fairtrade Premium. Since deforestation accounts for nearly 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, every tree planted makes a difference.
"We planted 50,000 trees four years ago, and that has helped us a lot…we use the trees for shading the coffee and protecting the soil."
Alcides Fernández, General Administrator, Cocasjol
When you choose Fairtrade, you’re supporting farmers to join together to swap skills and knowledge, so they can fight back at the challenges the climate crisis throws their way. But while knowledge is power, a root cause of many farmers’ inability to adapt and mitigate to climate change is not having enough money. Choose Fairtrade and you’re choosing the security of a minimum price, the power of the extra Fairtrade Premium and built-in environmental standards. Choose Fairtrade and you’re part of a global community fighting for climate justice – and a fairer, better world.
Fairtrade Climate Academy
In the coffee-growing regions of East Africa, the weather has changed dramatically in recent times. The seasons have become unpredictable and making a living from agriculture is tough when droughts, floods and extreme heat come and destroy your crops. The farmers are just about surviving, but there’s no money left over to invest in anything that would help protect from these shocks.
Fairtrade Africa’s Climate Academy was created to bring farmers together to share ways of adapting to climate change, to find new opportunities to earn money, and make their farms more able to withstand extreme events. Farmers pooling their knowledge and experience sows the seeds for strength and resilience in the face of a challenging future.
Why your coffee selection matters...
Ayantu has been growing coffee for nearly 20 years. Like many of the coffee farmers we work with she is facing the climate crisis head on: “Because of unexpected heavy rain with ice and frost, our coffee trees were destroyed 3 years ago” Ayantu’s story is one of the many reasons we signed Fairtrade’s Climate Pledge urging governments to listen to farmers’ voices but also committing to take responsibility for environmental challenges in our own supply chain It’s also why we’re supporting Fairtrade Fortnight 2022.
About Cat Rayner
Partner Marketing Manager at Fairtrade
Cat joined the Fairtrade Foundation as a volunteer 20 years ago. She is passionate about inspiring businesses and the public to choose Fairtrade in her role as Partner Marketing Manager, with a particular focus on coffee and OOH. She in turn is always inspired when talking to school children & university students about their understanding of trade & climate justice as part of Fairtrade’s Education programme.
If you would like to hear more about signing Fairtrade’s Climate Pledge or becoming a member of the Fairtrade Climate Network there’s more information here. Join us this Fairtrade Fortnight and choose to act for climate justice. To find out more about how to take part in 2022, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk/fortnight