Monday, April 21, 2008

Fair Trade project in South Africa

The main purpose for us working in EMG (Environmental Monitoring Group) based on getting an insight in Fair Trade “business” in South Africa.
EMG is a Cape Town based NGO, established in 1991 and has been active in assisting small-scale rooibos tea farmers in achieving organic and Fair trade certification. More recently EMG helped to set up the Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT), a network of small-farmers and farm-workers in the Fair Trade system. you see that the basis of learning was advantageous.

The first month was challenging enough, because we had to work closely with Stephen (the director of EMG) and make a research about Fair Trade in South Africa. Basically it meant looking for various information, talking to people, thinking, making some analyses. It meant many long hours in the cold office with tens of cups of rooibos tea. July in South Africa is wintry and cold.

We also got to know one packaging and trading company Fairpackers Ltd. It is an united company with small-scale rooibos producers and a Golden Scrab company which have been involved in packaging rooibos for overseas costumers many years. Fairpackers Ltd is a nice example of how each of its partners owns 33,3% of the company and invests equal amount of money in it. The factory is set up in Cape Town and employes only family members.

The second part of our internship took us to the countryside in Nieuwoudtville where we could work intensivly with the Heiveld Co-op. The work mainly was getting a contact with local small-scale farmers, learning from their work, living together with them to have an adequate view on their life.
The Heiveld Co-op was founded by 14 small-scale farmers of the Suid Bokkeveld community in 2001. Since then the Heiveld has grown to over 40 members today and does its own marketing and exporting of its members rooibos tea.

After some weeks, we had to get back to the city to organise a FTSA (Fair Trade South Africa) „Annual General Meeting“ and an international conference „Southern African Fair Trade Networking Conference“. Why to organise a networking conference? Like Noel Oettle (Chairperson of FTSA) said, the fair trade movement requires a comprehensive networking to extend its influence in southern hemisphere. He also said, that the fair trade concept had developed in a very different way in the south of Africa and its progress had been „unequal and patchy“. So networking seems to be essential for producers who could learn from each other and give support where necessary.
The next morning after the conference we gave the farewell breakfast party for EMG.

The time (3 months) was finished and only now we could feel that there is still loads of work to do and we just got used to the rhythm of south and the spring (which felt like Estonian-hot-summer). And we could do more…but this is the challenge of GLEN internship, to figure out fast what is happening with you in the place so unknown and then learn as much as you can. And then take the energy and the know-how back home and start with GE activities :):):) Mhhh, very smart conclusion for the next GLEN generation ah:)

1 comment:

Rimona said...

People should read this.