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Saturday 8th May is World Fair Trade Day, and the World Fair Trade Organization is promoting the message to ‘build back fairer’, following the disruption caused by Covid-19. For Newcastle organisation, Shared Interest, it also provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the vital role farmers and workers play in providing the food we eat. 

What can we do to help?

Shared Interest Managing Director Patricia Alexander said: “By working together we can really make a difference.  As countries begin to recover from the effects of the pandemic, it is vital that we unite in alleviating the challenges faced by communities in the developing world. By providing access to finance we can help fair trade businesses to create a more stable and sustainable income for farmers.”

Who will benefit from a fairer world?

Brazil nut co-operative Candela Peru has used Shared Interest finance for over 20 years, to support communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Candela works with Castañeros - nut gatherers living along the Madre de Dios River in the Peruvian rainforest, which is known for having the greatest diversity of plant and animal species on earth.

Gaston Vizcarra and Guadalupe (Lupe) Lanao Flores are Candela Peru Co-Founders.  Candela Co-Founder Guadalupe Lanao said: “Shared Interest has played a fundamental role in the growth of Candela. As we look to the future, we must consider what a better planet means.  The pandemic has emphasised the importance of people and planet in our daily work and in our vision.”

In 2003, the government granted a 40-year concession to the Castañeros, allowing them to farm the brazil nut trees in clearly defined locations; securing not only livelihoods but the vested interest of the farmers in managing and protecting the rainforest.

Gaston said: “We truly have a unique relationship between our Castañeros and the forest, and Shared Interest helps that relationship to flourish. The rights to harvest the nuts, the finance to pay the farmers, the expertise to create wonderful products, and the routes we now have to market. Every part of the process is crucial, and we depend on each other to keep this circle connected.

“The rainforest is under attack every day and we believe that the only way to save it is to make everyone aware of its importance and of the many raw materials that are available and can be sourced sustainably.

“I recently visited the Huicungo district in the province of Mariscal Cáceres in Peru. I met a native community who have no source of income. The women came out to meet me. I was deeply moved.

“Candela exists to help communities like this, and this is our mission. We want everyone to know about the importance of sustainable use and the conservation of ecosystems.”

What role does Shared Interest play?

Since 2001, Shared Interest has provided Candela with various types of loans to enable them to grow and sustain their business. All of these facilities have contributed to the growth and sustainability of the organisation and impacted positively on the livelihood of brazil nut producers and harvesters, their families and communities.  They have also continued to strengthen their range of other native Amazon products - all types of fruit - in order to ensure their sustainability. 

Patricia added: “World Fair Trade Day gives us the opportunity to pause and think about the huge obstacles farmers and workers overcome each day, to provide the food on our tables.  The theme of ‘build back fairer’ resonates with the work of Shared Interest. 

People are at the core of our work – our supporters, our customers, and our team based across three continents. We look forward to working together, to not only build back fairer, but to build back better and stronger so that farmers and artisans across the globe can continue to provide for themselves and their families.

“In addition to the travel, movement, and health implications imposed by the pandemic, we know the impact of climate change on developing world communities is a huge threat.  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.”

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