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Cashews Enable Women to Liberate Their Communities

Cashews Enable Women to Liberate Their Communities

On behalf of Fairtrade, Susannah Henty interviews Kate Gaskell, MD, Liberation Foods   Cashews are the most popular nuts in Europe and the US but the industry has a reputation for exploiting producers and workers. Liberation Foods, a company co-owned by farmers, argues that to be sure of the social and eco ethics of their nuts, retailers must trace the nuts back to their source.   Despite the cashew’s growing popularity amongst consumers the industry has a bad reputation; the nuts are notoriously hard to trace back to growers. Production can be exploitative and hazardous for workers – the caustic liquid inside the nut’s shell can be particularly harmful to the women who usually do this nimble work. So how can retailers be sure of the ethical credentials of their cashews?   Well, put simply, as with all products, traceability is the key. “Liberation can trace the nuts we sell in the UK back to individual farmers and factory workers. We do everything we can to ensure that people in our supply chain are making a decent living and are working in safe conditions”, says Kate Gaskell, MD, of Liberation Foods.  In addition to following Fairtrade’s rigorous certification standards, Liberation Foods is also 44% owned by small-scale producer co-operatives, and they say that puts nut producers at the heart of everything they do.   One such producer is Aniamma Roy, the vice chairperson of Fair Trade Alliance Kerala (FTAK), an organisation of smallholder farmers based in the hilly Western Ghats of Kerala. Like all of the farmers they source from she is invested in the company’s success and is... read more