An arctic blast, an exciting football world cup and seemingly endless hot summer days – this year has been quite something. For Liberation, there were highs and lows and lots of unexpected twists and turns. As the year draws to a close, we reflect on some highlights…
For the third time, Liberation supplied Tesco with a Fairtrade festive nut selection. The Finest, Dark Chocolate with Ginger and Nuts selection was a new recipe with new ingredients. Consequently, we had to find and work with new partners to supply all the ingredients. We worked with Mountain Fruits – a Fairtrade organisation in Pakistan that offers farmers training to improve agricultural practices to get the almonds. We sourced the cocoa from Peru and the Dominican Republic and the ginger from China. We loved producing this product because it gave additional business to coops we work with and helped us build new connections. We welcome the opportunity to support and build relationships with other Fairtrade organisations.
In August, Kerala was hit by some of the worst floods in over half a century and hundreds of people sadly died. All the cashew nut farmers we work with were unharmed, however, some farms were destroyed. Despite this terrible news, the sector was immediately ready to help. Fairtrade International committed to spend €80,000 to help rebuild the area. Some of our most loyal customers (who wish to remain anonymous) asked how to help and sent donations directly to the Fair Trade Alliance of Kerala (FTAK). A few months later, farmers planted 200,000 seedlings to replace lost crops. We never cease to be amazed by the generosity of the people that back Liberation and the Fairtrade movement.
For us, peanuts are big business. We source them from Burkina Faso and Nicaragua and are always our biggest import. Peanuts go into our oven baked packets – either simply seasoned with salt or chilli and lime. They also go into our crunchy peanut butter. To meet demand, we have imported over 220,000kg – to put that in perspective, it’s more than the weight of the Statue of Liberty. Every single kilo has helped to improve the lives of farmers.
A lot of our peanuts come from Del Campo, a second level cooperative in Nicaragua. This year some of the Fairtrade premium was spent on handicraft skills courses such as dress making, needlework and baking. The courses include all the materials, which are otherwise hard to find in rural communities, and are free. Johana Liseth Veldsquez Rocha attended a sewing course and said “the cooperative is pushing us to do the new things, even to encourage us to have a new lifestyle”. Members are pleased with the opportunity to develop their creativity and make their own clothes.
In June our chairman, Richard Cooper, spoke at a Shared Interest supporter event in Edinburgh. Shared Interest is an ethical investment organisation which aims to alleviate poverty by helping people in remote and disadvantaged communities. Richard spoke about the role of women in agriculture. He also talked about the importance of the Fairtrade premium and gave examples of how it’s been spent. The event was a fantastic opportunity to share how we work and why we invest in rural communities across the world.
We source a lot of cashew nuts from farmers in the FTAK cooperative which is a second level organisation. Within FTAK there are several farming groups and women’s groups. In the Kasargod District a group of women created a group to work together. This year, the group spent the Fairtrade premium on a project to expand the range of crops grown. As a result, they now produce organic beans to eat at home and sell in the markets.
A large quantity of our cashews come from India, however, we also get them from Burkina Faso. The cashews are sold in Liberation’s baked nuts and are also in Tesco and Sainsbury’s under their own labels. The natural nuts are a popular healthy snack. In 2018, we imported over 110,000kg of cashew nuts which is equivalent to more than 61 hippos.
Adeana Wilson, Business Coordinator and Dan Binks, Technical Manager, visited Burkina Faso in July. They went to meet peanut and cashew nut farmers in the Gebana Cooperative. While they were there, they met with a new coop that Gebana hopes to work with in 2019. We love to meet new farmers and discover opportunities to collaborate with new producer organisations.
We love the collaborative attitude of the Fairtrade sector. There’s a real sense of community and support among Fairtrade brands and as a result, other organisations help to campaign and tell producer stories. The collective approach was certainly evident when over 250 Fairtrade organisations launched a Fairtrade charter. The charter aims to support the movement by raising awareness among consumers. A united voice is more powerful and by working together, we have a better chance to liberate the lives of more farmers.
Our Chairman went on a scoping trip to Bolivia with our sister organisation, Twin, to explore the opportunities of a project to improve the lives of Amazonian communities. We would like to support Brazil nut gatherers to diversify their income with transparent supply chains of new commodities like Acai. Together with Twin, we will investigate funding opportunities to make this project a reality. Read more about the scoping trip here.
Thank you from the team in London and the farmers in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, India, Nicaragua and Malawi for everything you have helped us achieve this year. We’re excited to see what 2019 brings and above all, see how we can continue to improve the lives of over 35,000 small-scale farmers around the world.