20 August 2020

Our team are working remotely

As the Shared Interest team continues to work remotely, we remain in close contact with our customers across the world.  Our representatives in Ghana, Kenya, Costa Rica, Peru, and Europe relay stories of solidarity in remote communities, where farmers and handcraft makers are using the few resources they have to help as many families as possible.

Why is our finance needed?

What remains clear is that our mission to provide support to fair trade producers is more relevant than ever.  Amidst the extensive disruption caused by the pandemic, Shared Interest provides a reliable source of finance at a time when the future remains uncertain for most.  As co-operatives use our finance to pay their farmers as promised, the reoccurring message from customers across all regions is also just how vital the Fairtrade Premium is proving to be.

How does fair trade help?

Fairtrade has the highest fixed Premium of any independent certification scheme in cocoa, which goes directly to the producers' co-operatives on top of market price. In direct response to the coronavirus crisis, Fairtrade International announced increased flexibility to its Standards. This means that many of our customers are able to spend Fairtrade Premium funds to safeguard the health and livelihoods of farmers, workers and their communities.

Shared Interest customer, Ghanaian cocoa co-operative Asunafo has been praised for doing just this, using funds from their Premium to donate liquid soap to farmers and their families.  Asunafo had trained 25 farmers in liquid and solid soap making before the pandemic began, using the leftover cocoa elements and shea butter. Previously sold at the local market the liquid soap is now helping to protect the local community against Covid-19. 

Although all parts of the world have been affected by the travel, movement, and health implications imposed by the pandemic, we know that – just as with climate change – the impact on developing world communities is far more severe.  At government level, there are not the resources to provide grants and funding to cover trade losses, and at grassroots level, people do not earn enough to cover their basic needs.

Shared Interest exists to provide financial support so that more people can earn a fair living, and in turn afford the health and education support that their families deserve. We believe that trade justice should be a reality for all communities, and by supporting fair trade producers, we can help ensure that the people who provide the large majority of our food, receive the price they have earned in return.  Often without the infrastructure in place to transport their crops, farmers in the developing world have to follow labour intensive techniques.  When you consider that a typical cocoa farmer, working outside fair trade, lives on around 75p per day, then the imbalance of power is clear. Not only is this daily amount below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line of about £1.40, but this means that cocoa producers currently only receive about 6% of the value of the global chocolate industry.

What can you do to support farmers?

As Fairtrade encourages UK consumers to ‘choose the world you want’, we must think carefully about how we use our own resources to best support producers overseas.  We need trade justice for marginalised and disadvantaged communities more than ever. By spreading the message far and wide of the power of choosing Fairtrade wherever possible, we can all make a small step towards that goal.

By Shared Interest Managing Director, Patricia Alexander

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