In what Fairtrade International is calling ‘a global crisis in cocoa and coffee prices’, the organization convened a special conference earlier this month in Bonn, which brought together producers, businesses, governments and trade justice campaigners to map out a sustainable future for the world’s small-scale farmers and workers.
The conference, Changing Trade, Changing Lives, explored trends in sustainability, supply chains and human rights, and assessed progress towards achieving decent incomes for the 1.6m Fairtrade farmers and workers around the world.
“The current crisis in cocoa and coffee prices is symptomatic of a broken global trade system which means many farmers and workers don’t earn enough to pay for the basics like food, housing and education,” said Fairtrade International CEO Darío Soto Abril. “Fairtrade can’t solve this challenge by itself. It’s great to see some of the world’s biggest brands sitting in the same room as leading certification schemes to explore ways to tackle systemic unfairness in supply chains.
“Fairtrade is leading the fight for decent incomes in the cocoa, banana and coffee sectors,” he said. “But we can only do that in partnership with traders, brands and retailers.”
Leading brands, including Nestlé, Mars Wrigley, Lidl, Coop, Fyffes and Barry Callebaut, took part in panel discussions on living incomes for cocoa farmers and living wages for workers on banana plantations.
“Without cocoa farmers we don’t have a business, which is why living income is so important,” said Michelle O’Neill, VP global corporate affairs cocoa, Mars Wrigley. The company was the only one to publicly back plans by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to set a minimum floor price for cocoa, which in the end was not implemented because an agreement could not be made with other processors around the table.
“We all want farmers to earn a decent standard of living and be rewarded for growing cocoa in a sustainable way,” said O’Neill.
Rainforest Alliance CEO Han de Groot said that increased collaboration with governments, companies, NGOs and producers is the key. “We must all collaborate more closely to set the course towards a future where people and nature thrive in harmony. The Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade have similar objectives and face some big common challenges. A central one is how to better support farmers and workers trying to secure decent incomes.”