As we sit in our homes and workplaces reading this, drinking a mug of delicious Fair Trade drinking chocolate with a slice of homemade cake using Fair Trade ingredients, it’s almost impossible to visualise the story of how those ingredients were produced and the people behind them - people with families and feelings, just like us.
Turn that thought on its head, and those very same people find it almost impossible to believe that consumers in far-away countries have any interest in what they do on a daily basis or how they live. Step in the Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA), the Fair Trade certification body behind Lucy Bee’s range.
Part of their role is to encourage dialogue between the workers, farmers, producers and the consumer and so open a window into their respective worlds.
Couple this with dealing with workers and farmers whose culture is more rooted in oral traditions than written documentation and you can see some of the obstacles that this certifying body has to overcome.
FairTSA emphasise that those farmers and workers involved in producing our products should have a say in how the Fair Trade contributions are used. Committees are set up involving locals so that their voice is heard, rather than someone else far away deciding what they think is best for the community. This is something that makes FairTSA different to other certifying bodies.
The overall goal of FairTSA is to:
Read on to see how this is achieved through your Fair Trade contributions and is only made possible with your support – every time you choose a Fair Trade product, you’re helping to make a difference.
The Lucy Bee story started in 2012, with a Fair Trade premium quality, coconut oil, which is extra virgin, organic and raw. This comes from the Philippines where it is no mean feat to work in the jungle every day and sometimes even basic transportation is a major barrier to overcome.
The first major project that Lucy Bee and its customers contributed to here was funding for the construction of 2 wells. These provide clean, safe water for the local community, where infant mortality through pathogens is high. On a daily basis, the wells also save women a 2 hour round trip, on foot, to get water.
Funds have also been used to provide solar power….I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s experienced that feeling of panic when my mobile runs out of charge. How can I ‘check in’ or ‘like’ what my best friend is doing? For Philippine coconut farmers, their concerns are slightly different. Mobile phones are a life-line if stuck in the jungle and, for example, transport breaks down or a flat tyre. Solar energy has helped with charging phones, where electricity is not always available.
Recently, Fair Trade premiums have been used, at the farmers’ request, to buy metal sheets which are placed around coconut trees and prevent rodents from feeding on coconut flowers and thereby considerably reducing the coconut yield. A simple, yet highly effective, development, making a difference.
The Fair Trade contributions are also channelled into a Student Subsidy Programme. One particular mother of 13, is Estrella, shown below. Estrella is a shy, timid lady who oversees this programme for the dependents of local coconut farmers. With her large family, it’s a struggle to survive and keep her family afloat. Estrella believes that education for families, is the passport out of poverty. In her own words, “I had no other options to pursue education during my time. But at this point in my life I was given that privilege to help the young get access to education. I am not going to blow that chance away.”
Growing up in extreme poverty meant that Estrella was unable to go to school, so she makes sure that her children and those in the local community don’t miss out. At the moment, the Programme includes 30 children who are the children or grandchildren of coconut farmers.
Fair Trade contributions from our Coconut Sugar are helping the local community through sustainable projects and better pricing. This helps farmers weather the rough with the smooth and cushions them from market fluctuations.
Funds are also put into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. This additional income is decided upon democratically by producers within the farmers’ organisation, or by a workers’ committee on a plantation. The Premium is invested in education and healthcare; farm improvements to increase yield and quality; or processing facilities to increase their income.
One of the latest projects was to buy clay tubes which are used as a "smoke combustion tunnel from the stove" and is used during the making of coconut sugar.
Power cuts are a common occurrence in parts of India, where Lucy Bee spices are grown. Fair Trade premiums are used here to provide solar lanterns, which allows students to study with a good light and so reduce damage to their eyesight.
Funds are also used to create farm water harvesting structures to capture run-off water for use during the dry season. This can have a huge impact on the success of a crop.
Ongoing training for farmers in organic farming methods, crop sustainability and ways to increase income are all made possible through Fair Trade premiums. Each pot of Lucy Bee Turmeric Powder, for example, helps to funds these vital education programmes.
Lucy Bee Cacao Powder is as delicious as it is ethical. The team of mainly single mothers (seen in the main image to this article) who produce this slice of chocolate heaven, benefit from the Fair Trade premiums through fair wages and a fund set up to help educate their children and teach them English as a language, so helping to improve their future prospects.
Peru is home to several products in the Lucy Bee range. Our supplier for Maca and Lucuma, became certified Fair Trade so that we would buy from them. These premiums have been used to support education for children as well as equipping them with solar energy.
Meanwhile, a new addition to the range, due mid-March is Starseed Omega Sacha Inchi Oil. Here, Fair Trade is making a big difference. Farmers have grown illegal coca plants, used for cocaine and generating an income in this way. To switch from this cash crop, farmers need to be incentivised, which is how Fair Trade is helping. These contributions are used to encourage farmers to plant sacha inchi, which is sustainable and easy to grow. Funds are used to provide an ongoing income for food, education and schooling. In this way, farmers and families are shown alternative ways to be sustainable and at the same time receive an income.
So, please don't underestimate the difference that you're making to lives when you choose to buy Fair Trade products. From all of us at Lucy Bee and on behalf of our producers, thank you.
About Lucy Bee Limited
Lucy Bee is concerned with Fair Trade, ethical and sustainable living, recycling and eating close to nature with additive free products for health.
Members of the Lucy Bee team are not medically trained and can only offer their best advice. Any information provided by us is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Please note you should always refer your health queries to a qualified medical practitioner.
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