> FAIR TRADE PREMIUMS ARGENTINA
From 2012 to 2013 the fair trade premiums experimented
a slight decrease from USD 148.037 to USD 146.310, an
approximate 1% drop. The category in which most of the
investments were made was “Housing and Community
Services” with USD 76.248, “Education” with USD 41.322,
and “Health” USD 6.430. With more than 200% year-on-
year growth rate, “Housing and Community Services”
concentrated almost all investments in construction and
repairing of workers’ houses, building of special rooms for
family members with disabilities, tools and in some cases
portable accessories like tents for temporary workers
Investments made in Education were focused on covering the very specific needs of the schools of different areas. This includes investments in infrastructure like bathrooms but also in educational equipment and accessories. Schools have become an important factor of dissemination for fair trade project benefits. Within this category one of the most meaningful investment was made in terms of social benefit and education. Thus, the Los Sosa project is once again supported, fulfilling a long-term plan run in the municipal sports club and generating a positive, cooperative work environment. Health experimented very few investments, these were principally limited to basic medical equipment for some public institutions.
During 2013, a greater participation and inclusion has been noticed amongst the assemblies of all areas. In this sense, not only workers are the ones that participate or are beneficiated from the fair trade assemblies but also their neighbors.
Improvements made in terms of working methodology within each assembly resulted in a better dissemination and community outreach.
“Thanks to all the activities that are being performed in Los Sosa Sports Club we do not see children anymore in the streets. Instead they go from school directly to the sports club and their mothers feel much safer… many more children are now focused on sport instead of wandering dangerously in the streets the rest of the day… without this fair trade program this wouldn’t have been possible at all.” Diego Norry, Soldado Maldonado Assembly, 2014 “The Fair Trade program enabled us to buy many sports ítems that the kids needed for competing in the local league of Tucuman. Now all four teams participate of this tournament, this motivated a mutual help when the games are far away from the town because not everyone can afford transportation costs. Thus, snacks are sold to earn some funds for supporting these travel expenses…” Silvia, manager of the Soccer School of Santa Lucia, 2014
Over time, Interrupcion has been able to better understand certain aspects of the work environment, and as a result generates an increasing value in the fair trade premiums, as shown in the chart below. The chart demonstrates the evolution of the fair trade premiums accumulated between 2008 and 2013 while detailing those of the current production zones in Argentina.
In 2013, Argentinian workers’ assemblies accumulated a total of USD 146.310, just a bit behind the 2012 mark of USD 148.037. This small retreat was due to the closure of one of our certified operators balanced by the inclusion of a new certified supplier. Therefore the contribution of each product changed a lot in comparison to the last year.
Fair trade certified blueberries, both conventional and organic, contribute to 94 percent of total participation. Apples and pears compose 6 percent of the participation rate.
During 2013 total investments in Argentina were USD 124.000. It can be seen that the amount of money invested from year to year rose. This is related not only to the total amount of the premium available, but the performance of the assemblies in general.
The pie chart below shows how each project contributed to the categorization. As it can be seen, investments related to housing and community services were the major needs in these communities.
BLUEBERRIES · 2013 SEASON
Very low temperatures and frosts damaged part of the expected initial fruit volume so this affected the quality of the fruit upon arrival. With a new fair trade certified operation incorporated to our “community”, the fair trade premium generated by the blueberries increased dramatically. Because of the quality issues that we experienced we know that the amount of fair trade premium generated could have been quite bigger, in that sense, we achieved our goal only partially.
After several meetings, workers from the Soldado Maldonado assembly decided to continue investing their 2013 fair trade Premium in Los Sosa Project (which was started in 2012). This project started with the construction of a childcare center and a library. Once the building was finished, the assembly decided to buy educational games and toys for all the children that would be staying at the center.
To continue the project, different construction materials were bought including a perimeter fence to keep children safely inside the center area.
The child care center gives families an opportunity to detect potential kids’ early problems and provides these families with adapted solutions.
Both neighbor towns Los Sosa and Soldado Maldonado have an unavailable public library since it has been used for years to store construction material and other municipal things. Because of this, the construction of the new library in the top floor of the child care center is very meaningful for the community. There is a lot of effort being made to accomplish this project and a lot of books are being collected and donated to put this library operational as soon as possible.
It is obvious that every person involved in Los Sosa Project is truly committed to keeping children off the streets by improving the sports club infrastructure and providing them with a better access to educational material.
The table below details a partial disbursement of the investments realized in 2013.
Considering that 100% of the fair trade premium was invested according to the Education category, the pie chart below shows the cumulative distribution of all investments made during the period 2008 – 2013.
A SHORT STORY ABOUT GROWTH AND SOCIAL CONCIOUSNESS
Soldado Maldonado is an assembly that Works with interrupcion since 2008 and it is located in the province of Tucuman, Argentina.
At the beginning it was hard for the assembly to get organized and to understand the new way of work: “Fair Trade”. The committee was initially formed by 5 members because commitment was an issue. The person in charge of the committee recognizes that it is still hard to achieve social involvement whenever they start a new project. Now the group has 15 participants that are really committed and 50 people that attend to important meetings only.
The first premium investments consisted in buying things that would be later donated, an activity that did not require a lot of commitment and was easy to do. But as time went by, the assembly decided to start investing the fair trade premium in long term projects which take much more dedication.
The first investment made by Soldado Maldonado assembly in 2009, consisted in buying a wheelchair to a kid named Jason Palaveccino and 443 pairs of shoes for pupils of a school in the area.
Jason Palaveccino is a kid from Soldado Maldonado and his uncle is one of the permanent workers of the assembly. This kid suffers from Spastic cerebral palsy, so his uncle asked the assembly to help him buy a wheelchair. Workers had planned to invest the premium in other projects and were not interested in making this kind of donation, until they met the kid and learned more about his life. Ivana (the person in charge of the assembly) told us that an essential fact happened that helped them to clear their minds and take their final decision of this investment. “One weekend we attended a celebration in town and, by chance, we sat just next to Jason’s family who was also attending the celebration. During the party, Jason’s dad helped him stand up while his mother was getting milk and a syringe from her bag. We all stood still and watched the situation. When she put the milk into the syringe I asked her what was she doing, and she answered “I am going to feed my baby, he is hungry.” We all kept watching silently. She placed the syringe in the probing that the baby had in his nose and started injecting the milk. “…I think that scene was what convinced the workers to let their selfishness aside and buy the chair.” On the following day they organized a meeting and decided to buy Jason’s chair.
Jason is now 9 years old and is turning 10 on September, with the wheelchair he has a means of transport that allows him to attend a special school which is very important because there, he receives all the treatments he needs. In 2010 a second investment was made, this time workers decided to buy personal computers for their homes (investment followed in 2011) and a freezer for temporary workers at the farm, so they can keep their food and beverages cold and safety while they are working. Only a few years ago there was no internet access in the region. Today, thanks to the commitment of workers and delegation of Fairtrade premiums, the community members enjoy having access to four shared computers and almost every home is equipped with a personal computer. Families have pledged to attend computer workshops and to pay internet access.
The managing director of a blueberry farm describes the access to internet as “revolutionary” for the region, both in terms of education and connectivity; families use computers as and educational tool and they can also communicate with their relatives that live far away.
In 2012 a big amount of the fair trade premium was invested in “Los Sosa project”, this long term project requires much more commitment than the investments made before.
The scheme at “los Sosa” is really wide and it covers different areas of the community. The proposal was made by Ivana Palaveccino as a consequence of her assistance in a group formed by members of the community and staff from the Ministry of Social Affairs. The group is called “Management Table”, they discuss the different problems in the region and decide which of them need urgent care. That is how this project started, it had not been previously carried out because of the lack of resources until Ivana proposed it to the fair trade assembly and the workers very interested, decided to invest on it.
The place where the project is being carried out used to be a club that only served once a week on Sundays for adults who played football (soccer). The place has now been conditioned so that other activities can be performed there. Also a library and a nursery are in construction. The purpose of the nursery is to take care of the children whose mothers work and are not able to pay a baby-sitter, it is also a good opportunity to detect any kind of problems in families and find a way to help them.
The construction of a small library in Soldado Maldonado is a consequence of the few investments made on education by the local authorities and because the only library in the area is being used as a warehouse.
One of the most meaningful objectives of reconditioning the club is to take kids out of street dangers and encouraging them to do sport.
Karina Lazarte, a resident of “Soldado Maldonado” and contributor in the club says that the children in her community are really happy with the project and thanks to the club now they have a place to celebrate different events such as, parties, meetings, birthdays, etc. Being a public place, the whole community feels committed, takes care of the place and works to develop its uses. Happily she states that the club has given life back to the village “… It has been a while since the last time something happened that includes us all!”.
Diego Norry a permanent worker at the farm says that he is really happy with “Los Sosa project” and that without fair trade work it wouldn’t have been possible. “…thanks to the club activities, children are not being seen in the streets any more , they go from school directly to the club so mothers can be relaxed because kids are focused on sports.“.
This year was the second year that summer workshops took place, more than 50 children participated in the workshops (drawing, dancing, and sports) and also received breakfast. For the third consecutive year, Children’s Day was celebrated and nearly 600 children attended the celebrations. This strengthens the commitment of the community and private companies in the area.
It is clear that such project will benefit both “Soldado Maldonado” and “Los Sosa”, two villages that are next to each other. Now it seems that it is time for a more ambitious step, a high school for adults is being planned. This project won’t only help adults who haven’t finished their secondary studies but also teachers in the area that are unemployed.
As typical, their ideas were numerous, and as the staff described, it was not always easy to reach an agreement for a final decision.
Housing and community services
One of the most important investments this group decided to make was the construction of a complete bedroom for Palomino Alexis. The year before part of the fair trade premium was also invested in getting a medical diagnosis for this kid. Because of his disability now he has to follow different medical treatments.
Even though a great amount of money from the premium was invested in Palomino’s bedroom, it is important to notice that there was a considerable investment made on education. Workers bought shoes for 108 kids of “Juan Jose Comachi” school, also a photocopying machine and some appliances were bought for school N°19. Finally sport materials, school appliances and construction materials were bought for school “Madre Mercedes Pacheco”.
The table below details a partial disbursement of the investments realized in 2013.
In the following chart we can see the proportion of investments in each category in respect to the total amount invested in 2013.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF CONCEPCIÓN
Zone: Tucumán - Argentina
In 2012 this farm was acquired by another firm and unfortunately decided not to continue working under the Fair Trade scheme. However, because there was still premium available, the workers continued their normal task of investing the fair trade premium.
Housing and community services
In 2013 they decided to buy construction materials for workers’ houses, thus leaving no fair trade premium available.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF SANTA LUCIA
Zone: Tucumán - Argentina
For their second year, the workers of Santa Lucia assembly proved to have understood a lot of the needs of their surrounding community and the meaning of the fair trade premium. They found themselves with a lot of funds available from this second premium and have been wise enough to invest them in different meaningful projects all- around.
All of the investments made were related to education and health, this had the most positive impact in Santa Lucia’s community.
The water tank from “Santa Lucia” hospital was in deplorable conditions therefore, the assembly decided to invest part of their fair trade premium in replacing it. Moreover, an antivenom serum was bought for the same hospital.
At “School N°19 - Benjamin Zorrilla” some of the toilets had to be repaired because their conditions were so critical that it was completely unsafe for children. Also 5 fans and 1 computer were bought for this school.
After some meetings with the board of the School N°236 “La Cienaga”, the workers agreed to buy 5 computers as part of the equipment required to build up a computer room, thus beneficiating a lot of children. Many sport items were bought to meet the needs of the sport classes and attract more and more children towards a safer environment off the streets.
This Soccer School has four teams for different categories, from 8 to 9 years old and the older ones, 12 years old and more. With these new sport items they can now compete in the local league of Tucuman, something that would not have been possible before. Games are played in different places, sometimes far away being this now a new issue because many families can not afford the travel expenses. Thus, they sell some snacks and food during the soccer matches to fund themselves and pay their transport to the next game.
Housing and community services
Out of the total 2013 investments this category accounted for 63% of the total from which the biggest part was used to improve the condition of 21 workers houses as it can be seen in the table below. The second investment was focused on providing Santa Lucia´s Church with construction materials for basic maintenance and improvements. At the end of the year and because of local conditions in Argentina, workers met again to discuss about buying Christmas baskets for their families, this was the last investment made by this assembly in 2013.
A quite meaningful investment for the community was also made in Santa Lucia’s center for disabled people through the acquisition of 60 chairs and 10 tables.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF FAMAILLA
Zone: Tucumán - Argentina
This assembly joined Interrupcion in 2013 and is formed by three subgroups not formally defined yet. This biggest sub-assembly is actually situated in more than one farm and different zones which are not really close to each other. Because of this, the Fair Trade premium is going to be divided in three or four sub-assemblies.
There are so many workers dispersed in many different geographical areas that their needs are really different, this is why each group will represent each community and have their own investments. For now, no investments have been made yet.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF DIEGO GAYNOR
Zone: Buenos Aires - Argentina
This assembly is still using a pending amount from 2012 fair trade premium. This is because the farm activities were almost stopped during 2013. Finally the farm was bought by other investors who decided to stay apart of the fair trade program. Even though, the assembly kept working normally and made some investments that improved the health and life quality of workers.
Two portable oximeters were bought for Diego Gaynor’s emergency room.
Housing and commuty services
In contrast to last year when sleeping bags were bought for temporal workers, this year tents were bought for the same workers. With these tents they can have a temporary shelter when they move to another work zone until they find a new temporary job.
In addition to this, different construction materials were bought to repair workers’ houses.
In the pie chart below, we can see the investments made per category for the year 2013 and the accumulation of investments between 2009 and 2013, respectively.
For the third year this assembly is working under fair trade standards, and an important change in the way the assembly works has been made.
Until 2012 this group of workers was really unorganized, the participation within the assembly and the investment of the premium were slow and complicated. In 2013 just before the harvest season started, temporary and permanent workers gathered and decided to re-organize the premiums, its distribution and the investments. Finally they managed to form two groups, both consistent and strong, everything started from scratch for this assembly.
Similarly to last year but in a much smaller amount, some furniture was acquired for “Calculin Kinder Garden” helping them to improve children care.
Housing and commuty services
Most of the investments made were strongly related to improve temporary workers’ quality of life during the harvest. Even though farms provide all the elements and the infrastructure that is necessary for workers to do their jobs, the investments were focused on improving these conditions with different devices, keeping in mind that they live in these farms during a long period of the year. Portable elements (set of dishes) were bought for temporary workers, so that they can take them with them when they move to other work areas.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF RIO TALA
Zone: Buenos Aires - Argentina
The workers of Rio Tala were incorporated into the fair trade program in 2010. However, in 2012, the farm requested suspension from fair trade inspection, due to financial issues that would likely result in their withdrawal from the industry. Because there is no assembly left, ideas for investments are limited.
Housing and commuty services
Since there was an urgent need for helping the community sports area, investments were focused on the reconstruction of bathrooms. As for today, there is still a small amount of the fair trade premium left that will be invested in 2014.
PEARS AND APPLES
ARGENTINA · 2013 SEASON
The market in 2013 can be considered a “good” year considering market performance. Although shipments from the main supplier were very low this year because of bad quality issues, part of the fairly traded volume of apples and pears were somewhat balanced by a new certified operation. For this reason, the annual amount of fair trade premiums earned by these Patagonian assemblies is a bit lower than the amount of premiums collected in 2012.
This assembly has experienced several commercial setbacks over the past few years until it was definitively dissolved. The firm they were working for suspended activities and was finally sold to other investors. While no longer a part of the FFL certification program as of mid-2013, the workers’ group still has premiums available for investment. Due to the replacement of staff and dismantling of the assemblies, it has so far been challenging to pursue investment decisions.
The community knows the importance of investing in health, it proved it when it decided to buy a negatoscope and medical tools for Cinco salto’s Hospital.
Housing and commuty services
A considerable amount of the fair trade premiums has been dedicated to invest in this category. First, construction materials and tools were bought for workers’ houses, bicycles and electrical devices for their families.
Some of the workers expressed their needs not in construction materials or tools but on some kind of assistance to help them improve the after-hours activities that they were developing. Thus, economic support was given to buy a photographic lens and a lawnmower. Other investments made related to community were musical instruments that were bought to support Cinco Salto’s street band, and 10 blankets and pillows were purchased for an asylum.
WORKERS´ ASSEMBLY OF FERNANDEZ ORO
Zone: Rio Negro - Argentina
This group works for a company that produces pears and apples in two farms situated in the surroundings of the town of Fernandez Oro. Because of their geographica separtation and this specific group of workers the assembly is divided in two. In these farms there are almost no permanent workers so the assembly decided to wait until the permanent staff arrives for the harvest season to get organized. This is their first year of work with Interrupcion and we hope they can rapidly form a succesfull group in this area.
Beginning with organic agriculture, Interrupcion decided to take a step further and started applying biodynamic agriculture methods, which means having a bigger social and ecological commitment and impact. Because of its processes, this method allows to maximize nutrients release in the soil, thus obtaining more nutritious foods for consumers.
This type of agriculture emerged in 1924 from eight lectures given by Rudolf Steiner (Philosopher 1861-1925) in response to certain issues that farmers were facing as a consequence of regular chemical uses in conventional agriculture.
The name biodynamic was chosen by people who attended those lectures, “byos” means life and “dynamis” strength (in Greek). This name was chosen because biodynamic agriculture is based on respecting the natural “cosmic” rythms and forces of the Earth in order to ensure soil, animals and plants health, as well as a healthy nutrition for animals and human beings.
Biodynamic agriculture is guided by astronomical times, the rhythms of the moon, the sun and the cosmos, because their different positions influence soil and nature rhythms. There is also a special calendar that schedules farming tasks trying to align crops with terrestrial and cosmic rhythms.
In order to achieve a balanced cycle biodynamic agriculture aims at producing all supplies that are necessary inside the farm. That way, each component (man, animals, vegetables, soil, compost, climate, etc) plays its role inside the overall farm organization. Because of the harmonious interactions among them, a natural and lasting balance is achieved. Interrupcion is working with two biodynamic farms: both in Argentina, one is in Rio Negro (it produces pears and apples), related to the Worker´s Assembly of Cinco Saltos and the other one in Tucuman (blueberries) related to the Worker´s Assembly of Santa Lucia. By applying biodynamic farming methods, workers in farms are focused on the revitalization of the land, crops, animals and human beings, producing high nutritional quality foods. During last year different special mixtures made by mineral and organic products and following phonological and astronomical conditions, where used to carry out every day duties. One of them is the 501 compound which was used in both farms. This compound is now made in Rio Negro farm in order to support themselves during the year. The mixture consists in filling a cow horn with ground quartz and rain water. Then it is buried in the soil of the farm from spring to autumn so it can accumulate all the cosmic strength related to light. This mixture stimulates the sprouting, flowering and fruit formation and enhances the flavors, smells, and main crop nutrients.
> FAIR TRADE PREMIUMS CHILE
Starting 2012, Alimentos Interrupcion Limitada is
consolidating its social project among farmers. In 2013 Fair
Trade Premiums rose to USD 68.988 from USD 32.959 in
2012. This amount represents a 52% increase for available
funds for the workers’ assemblies.
In 2013 premiums investments in Chile totaled USD 56.303. The category in which most of the investments were made was “Housing and Community Services” with USD 43.923, followed by “Health” USD 9.484 and “Education” with USD 2.896.
Housing and Community Services concentrated almost all investments in construction, reparation of workers’ houses, family food baskets, bicycles, greenhouses, social events, and other things like purchase of personal utensils or help to people that were victims of natural disasters.
Investments made in Education were limited and focused on financing students’ transport expenses and social events for little children. Few but meaningful investments were made in Health like the tricycles bought for “Vida” foundation, a non profit organization for people with the Down syndrome. Other investments included a wheelchair, a special fund reserve for workers’ health and disease
“Thanks to fair trade premiums i was able to buy construction materials to build a small but really significant house. I hope we will still be working with the same fair trade model, the money from the fair trade premium represents an entire year of intense effort and work and it’s really important for us.”
Samuel Amaro Moya worker, of Linares Assembly. “The important thing about fair trade is not what you can buy but the fact that we have, as workers, the opportunity to talk about our dreams and the possibility to make some of them real.”
Nivaldo Troncoso, worker of Linares Assembly. treatments for workers.
The overall organizational structure of the assemblies in Chile was improved by grouping them into two main assemblies: Assembly of Maule – Bio Bio and Assembly of Araucania, both geographically separated and independently coordinated by Interrupcion* fair trade staff.
Starting 2012, Alimentos Interrupcion Limitada is consolidating its social project among small, medium and some large farmers. In 2013 there has not been an increase of farmers but Fair Trade Premiums rose from USD 32,959 in 2012 to USD 68,988 in 2013. This amount represents a 52% increase in the funds available for the workers’ assemblies. The chart below shows the evolution of the fair trade premiums accumulated between 2012 and 2013. Almost all of the premiums were generated by the blueberry activity. Fair trade certified blueberries, both conventional and organic, contribute to 96 percent of total participation. Cherries compose the remaining 4 percent of the participation rate.
During 2013 total investments in Chile were USD 56,303. It can be seen that the amount of money invested from year to year declined, this represents a 2.9% decrease. Although this is a small decrease this might be related to the time of the year when the assemblies started investing. The pie chart below shows how each project contributed to the categorization. As it can be seen, investments related to housing and community services were the major needs in these communities.
In 2013 there have been many changes in the farming structure of Alimentos Interrupcion, some of the farmers decided to work more independently but within the social project of Interrupcion* Fair Trade and a lot of new farmers got involved in the project in view of the 2014 season. In this sense, the number of farmers rose from 13 to almost 37. This led us to improve the overall organizational structure of the assemblies in Chile by grouping them into two main assemblies, Assembly of Maule – Bio Bio and Assembly of Araucania, both geographically separated. Each farm has kept its current workers’ assembly but will now work as part of a larger assembly, either Assembly of Maule – Bio Bio or Assembly of Araucania, both assemblies of assemblies. This constitutes a big step as it implies to work on a regional scale. Each sub-assembly will keep, as always, its representatives and workers but annually they will meet and work on social projects on a regional scale. These projects can / will be financed through the fair trade premiums of each sub-assembly and through Interrupcion* Fair Trade´s Social & Development fund.
ASSEMBLY OF MAULE – BIO BIO
This first main assembly is located in the central part of Chile and includes all the farmers from Regions VII and VIII. In the table below detailed information can be seen.
As it can be interpreted as a general need of the communities, Housing and Community Services received the biggest share of investments with USD 43,015, Health received USD 9,484 and Education received USD 2,896, both concentrating the 100% of the investments made on these categories overall in Chile . Allocation of investments are shown in the pie chart below.
One of the investments on health concerned the case of Sara Gonzalez Alfaro, a 67 year old woman suffering from cancer. Sara used to work at Queseria´s assembly until she started to be affected by health issues. Later on she was informed that she suffered from cancer. Even though she is not able to work anymore, she gets a monthly monetary support from the fair trade premium assembly. With this money, she buys the special food she needs to avoid worsening her situation.
Another important investment was made to help Maria Ester Tapia, a woman suffering from dental caries and decalcification problem. The assembly agreed to support a part of her dental treatment and provides the prostheses she needed. Although the cost of the treatment was more expensive, Maria was able to afford the remaining part of the treatment.
At Entre Rios, a new wheelchair was acquired for an ex- worker in replacement of its actual one and a basket of basic things like special food, diapers and utensils were bought for a little girl in a vegetative state. A meaningful investment has been made at the “Vida” foundation (Vida means life), a nonprofit organization that shelters 15 young people with Down Syndrome. Special bicycles (tricycles) were bought so that they can practice some exercise in a safe way.
The overall lack of resources in the community means that the priority has to be put on some basic needs, for instance health treatments and funeral services. To cover this kind of personal issues, Entre Rios assembly reserves a part from the fair trade premium fund and makes it available for each of its members. Two other investments made on Health were a pair of glasses for a worker at Queseria and a kit for monitoring blood pressure at Entre Rios.
Transport is a very expensive service in Chile and this becomes a problem for families that are dependant on it. Queseria assembly decided to cover this transport cost for Ivan Casanova Canales, Valentina Avila Bobadilla and Alexandra Salazar Palma who are college students and workers of this group. The same group of workers also decided to pay one month of their education fee, and to buy a special costume with all the items needed for one of them who is studying to become a chef.
At Entre Rios, some contributions were made at two schools: “Las Violetas” and “Lenguaje Parral” to pay for the Christmas breakfast of the little children.
Housing and commuty services
Similarly to 2012, most of the investments were made to improve the living conditions of workers. Regions VII and VIII are two of the poorest regions in Chile, meaning that people live in very precarious conditions and have very limited access to work. Because people live mostly in rural areas their main work activity is extremely seasonal, so family incomes are very unstable and restricted. The off season periods may be very demotivating and so, many of the investments made are pointed to cover the most basic needs like food. Winter becomes a hard time of the year and with limited incomes, the assemblies agreed to buy “family food baskets” or “food credit” to be used at local supermarkets so that many of the families can cover their basic necessities.
A common kind of investment is made on transport for workers or family members. For many of them, transport means a high cost. Depending on the distance between their homes and workplaces some of them were able to buy bicycles using the fair trade premium fund.
Another major investment was made on construction materials. Considering the families’ lack of economic resources, the funds available through the fair trade premiums are truly valuable. Construction materials bought to repair houses vary a lot, from sheet irons to tiles for floors, doors and electric materials.
An interesting investment was made at Queseria sub- assembly where workers decided to build two greenhouses for off season work. During winter most of them are usually unemployed, therefore this gives them the opportunity to generate incomes once the blueberry season is finished. Other investments included shoes for workers and a hard disk for a computer at a social center.
The Entre Rios assembly is very young and is formed by many workers, permanent and temporary from different places. This makes the organizational structure of the assembly and its committee very complex to manage. Lots of discussions, disagreements, work and meetings were necessary to positively resolved existing issues. Part of this led them to achieve to end the year with a Christmas festive day for all the workers of the assembly. This meant a lot to them because they rely very strongly on social ties.
ASSEMBLY OF ARAUCANIA
This main assembly is located in the southern part of Chile and includes all the farmers from Regions IX, X and IVX. Sub-assemblies included are: Familia Eleanzea and Quilamary.
Both sub-assemblies within this main assembly are quite different, in essence Familia Eleanzea is a very small farm managed almost entirely by its owner and family members so the workers´ committee is formed by themselves. As for Quilamary sub-assembly, (under fair trade certification for four years) it has always been a challenging situation due to the fact that most of the people belong to the Mapuche community, a native community which has its own ancestral traditions.
Housing and commuty services
This category concentrated 100% of the investments, both groups focused basically on improving their living conditions. Members of Familia Eleanzea decided to buy a refrigerator for their first investment. Workers of Quilamary belong to a very poor community and therefore their investments have always been based on improving their houses due to its precarious conditions. For this purpose, workers of Quilamary invested in wood as construction materials.
> FAIR TRADE PREMIUMS IN PERU
The opening of our new office in Peru will be considered
one of the many milestones in Interrupcion´s timeline.
It has been a very active year because new promising
relationships were achieved in different types of
production such as organic bananas, organic mangos,
asparagus and industrial derivatives. These organic fruits
are produced by groups of farmers who, in some cases,
already have experience in Social Responsibility and Fair
Trading. The total amount of fair trade premiums for Peru
was USD 11,160 and has been generated from bananas and
PRODUCERS’ ASSEMBLY OF TUMBES
Zone: Tumbes - Peru
This organization works with Interrupcion since 2013. It gathers small and medium organic banana producers, dedicated to orientate, organize and give these producers technical advices so that they can improve their socio- economical standards. This group of producers is certified according to the FLO standard, this means that the business relationships and the Fair Trade premium are based on this standard. The relationship between Tumbes group of producers and Interrupcion has just started so no investments were made yet.
PRODUCERS’ ASSEMBLY OF SULLANA
Zone: Piura - Peru
This organization also works with Interrupcion since 2013 and gathers small and medium organic banana producers. It is certified by FLO so the business relationship and the fair trade premium are based on the FLO standards and the group needs. This commercial relationship started at the end of 2013, the very low amount of fair trade premiums is due to the size of this group of producers. No investments were made yet.
Interrupcion has been working with asparagus producers in the past but 2013 was a decisive year in consolidating our operations in Peru. With our new office opened mid 2013 in Piura we could set new bounds with many groups of producers. With one of them we started a new commercial relationship exporting fresh asparagus to the U.S.A.
PRODUCERS’ ASSEMBLY OF SANTA DOMINGUITA
Zone: Ica - Peru
This group of asparagus producers from Santa Dominguita in Ica province has presented an interesting challenge to work with. In the early 2013 the first conversations with this group allowed us to arrange everything so that the whole group could be fair trade certified by the end of the year. During the harvest period between August and November the amount of fair trade premiums achieved was USD 6,000. No investments were made form this producer group yet.
> FAIR TRADE PREMIUMS IN ECUADOR
From 2012 to 2013 the fair trade Premium increased 101% from USD 70,654 to USD 142,320. The category in which most of the investments were made was “Housing and Community Services” with USD 114,722, followed by “health” and “Education” with USD 2,200 and USD 1,640 respectively. For the second year, a meaningful investment was made in “Health” at “Casita de Mis Sueños” a foundation that hosts kids that were victims of different types of family violence, providing them with social assistance. In relation to “Housing and Community Services”, investments were based on improving the farms infrastructure, productivity and making labor more efficient. Investments made in “Education” focused on training administrative and farm staff on Ecuador’s Labor Laws & Rights, GMP and GAP.
“I used to work at a conventional farm. The chemicals used there, caused me a skin infection. I am really thankful now for working at an organic banana farm. And not only because of the organic farming itself, but because this organization is also fair trade, so i know i can count on a friend leaving work hierarchies apart.”
Anonymous, El Guabo Assembly, 2013
PRODUCERS’ ASSEMBLY OF EL GUABO
Zone: El Guabo - Ecuador
This is an organization that works with Interrupcion since 2012, and gathers small and medium banana producers. It is dedicated to orientate, organize and give these producers technical advices so that they can improve their socio- economical standards. The objective of this organization is to help producers commercialize their organic bananas on the international market. We are committed to act in an honest, responsible and punctual way to create a fair relationship between producers and consumers.
El Guabo assembly supports annually a foundation named “Casita de Mis Sueños” (“The House of my Dreams”). This foundation hosts kids that were victims of different types of family violence and works as their temporary home until they can go back live with their families or they get adopted by other families, after their psychological recovery. “Casita de Mis Sueños” does not count with sufficient resources to support the increasing number of children that enter the recovery process. This year the number rose to 45 children, and the group of workers and farmers of El Guabo decided to reaffirm their unconditional support to the foundation giving them hygiene kits, food, and also donations to adapt the children’s park. Like the year before different shows and entertainments were performed for the “child´s day”.
Investments were based on training workers on Ecuador’s law changes, workers need to be constantly updated on these law modifications. Thus, the monitoring committee of the assembly managed to train and update the farm and administrative staff on Work laws and Human resources. Training on Good Manufacturing Practices (BMP), Proper use and handling of chemicals, Handling and storage of inputs, Control of pests and diseases in organic bananas, Control and Integrated management of weeds.
Housing and commuty services
Most of the investments were made in community services and infrastructure. A storage depot was built for the fruits that come palletized from the farms, there, quality controls can be performed and the fruits are then loaded in the containers for delivery. This investment was accompanied by the acquisition of a forklift to streamline and accelerate the whole operation and prevent spoilage of the fruit. This type of work after some time damages the tools so an important maintenance has to be done.
The assembly decided to improve farming conditions with additional technology, inputs and knowledge. This investment was important because production environment changes quite a lot from year to year affecting, infrastructure, land, nutrients and thus, the crop. At the beginning once they started exporting, the producer group had a very strong economic setback. The investments they had to make led them to take out a bank loan of USD 200,000 on a 5-year term. The assembly decided to use part of the fair trade premiums to pay back this loan so that no amortization fees apply to members any more.
Below is a summary of the investments made from the Fair Trade Premiums.
> MOVING FORWARD WITH INTERRUPCION'S NEW FARMS, CALIFORNIA
Founded: in 2001
Location: Watsonville, CA, USA
Products: Organic Strawberries & Organic Wet Veggies (Broccoli, Kale, Romaine Lettuce).
Mission: To advance economic viability, social equity and ecological land management among limited - resource and aspiring farmers.
* Purpose: to give farmworkers the opportunity to move up the job ladder, teaching them crop planning, production, organic farming techniques, marketing and distribution skills.
* Farm incubator program: allows newly minted farmers to lease the organization´s farmland for up to six years - with access to tractors, equipment, irrigation and other support for a reduced fee.
* Licensed wholesale distribution program tha helps the new farmers with storage, marketing and distribution.
* Since the program started in 2001, more than 80 small farm businesses have been created.
* Most participants are first generation Latino immigrants and 40% are women.
* Fair trade premiums created for every purchase, invested by rural farming communities in local health, education and housing.
The very basis of our program is:
to help create wealth in low - income communities in our region by leveraging vocational skills and enterpreneurial drive with education and access to resources.”
Gary Peterson, Communications and Development Director.