With World Fair Trade Day approaching, I asked our National Sales Director, Ryan Gomes, to reflect back on his recent trip to West Africa. Ryan, along with our CEO and members of Fairtrade America embarked on a seven day visit with the farmers that grow our cacao and to see first-hand the impact our Fairtrade Premiums are having in these far off communities.
What are Fairtrade Premiums? Over and above the Fairtrade price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.
That companies that source Fairtrade ingredients are truly helping so many lives. These are people that fight every day for the necessities of life. The Fairtrade Premiums are giving farmers opportunities to begin to pull themselves out of this day-to-day struggle to just survive.
The Premium funds are allocated specifically to improve farmers’ lives and their communities – whether it be to build school houses for their children, build community wells or medical facilities. It gives them the opportunity to invest in equipment and techniques to improve yields. What we heard over and over again from the countless farmers that we met with was “fair trade is fair” and “how can we get more fair trade contracts?” It was certainly a motivator to sell more chocolate!
How did it make you feel?
Proud! Proud to be part of a company that is giving back. Each year we are not only helping support wildlife conservation efforts, we are improving thousands of human lives by selling our chocolate. I witnessed it firsthand.
Did it change any of your perceptions on Fairtrade or the farmers that grow our cacao?
Being half way across the world from our farmers, you certainly feel very removed from their struggles. The experience definitely gave context to how vital Fairtrade is.
It is easy to talk at trade shows, to buyers, consumers, about how we use Fairtrade cocoa beans…but I never fully appreciated the enormity of the impact until this visit. Choosing to source Fairtrade makes a meaningful difference for these communities.
Head here for videos and more snapshots from our trip! Plus, we have stats and stories that show how choosing Fairtrade chocolate is improving lives and building communities.