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What Is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade emphasises support and respect for producers through paying a fair price, improved working conditions, sustainable community developments and fair terms of trade.

Lucy Bee is certified Fair Trade by the Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA) and this brings with it a wealth of ethics too.

What we’ve realised is that really the question is not so much ‘what does Fair Trade do?’ but more ‘What are you doing if you don’t buy Fair Trade?’ And not all Fair Trade schemes are the same.

FairTSA certified ensures that those that produce our coconut oil, directly benefit……all workers (from the farmers to factory workers) are paid a fair wage and have contracts so they cannot be exploited; farmers receive a fair price for their coconuts; and it also means no child labour and cruelty to or misuse of animals.

FairTSA also supports sustainable community development projects where the community decide how the funds should be spent to improve their lives.

By using Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Fair Trade Organic Raw Coconut Oil you are making a difference to your health and at the same time helping others.

Fairtrade1Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Fair Trade Organic Raw Coconut Oil is produced in the Philippines,the Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka. It is a nutritious dietary oil made from organically grown coconuts and a Fair Trade product. This means we can help to improve workers’, farmers’ and producers’ quality of life. 


Why Is it So Important?

Life in these producer countries can be quite different to our own. Take, for example, access to clean, safe, drinking water. In our developed societies we often don’t think about this, we simply take it for granted. For indigenous communities such as those on Mindanao, the Philippines, access to safe drinking water can be a matter of life and death and that is no exaggeration.

Many waterborne pathogens, both bacteria and viruses, can cause severe illnesses and waterborne pathogens are one of the leading causes of infant and small children's deaths.

Health care in the rural areas of the Philippines is bad to non-existent and with an annual national health care budget of $7 per capita (2010), most of which is spent in the urban centers, this is not surprising. In rural areas, such as those where our coconut oil is produced, typically less than half of this budget is allocated to inhabitants.

Our Fair Trade premium has contributed towards the construction of two wells, giving villagers access to safe water. With an average annual family income of EURO 1,850 (2011), limited or no public transportation and very limited access to health care, these simple hand-operated wells alleviate some of the hardship in the lives of 200 people and may save many young lives.

Homes in this region have no access to electricity so our contributions have also bought solar panels meaning, for the first time, they now have basic lighting.

In the Solomon Islands our Fair Trade premium helps to improve lives daily.  The addition of equipment specifically designed for these remote villages to extract coconut oil means families can supplement their incomes from fishing and farming. This is a viable and sustainable small scale enterprise for local inhabitants. 

How Does it Work?

The small farmers are paid a fair price for the coconuts they supply and the price premium for this product funds sustainable community development projects.

Fairtrade2

FairTSA's approach with regard to community develpments is phased.

To begin with, fairly easy to accomplish projects are effected  to encourage a sense of achievement and confidence in the the local community.

The next stage is to increase community involvment in democratic decison making and this can be somewhat challenging in what is often a more traditional society.

As the product is Fair Trade we pay a 10% premium when we purchase the coconuts. This is the farm gate price for the Fair Trade oil and bears no relevance to our sale price.

70% of this premium is used to pay the local farmers more for their produce, 30% is accumulated and used for community projects. Not all Fair Trade schemes pay higher wages AND support community developments - they can be either / or, so this makes FairTSA different.

Finally 0.75% of sales is paid towards the running costs of the Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance to enable them to do their good work.

What some people do not realise is that it is exactly the same product, so Fair Trade is no different in quality. Lucy Bee could buy the same oil for less but we (and we hope you) want to make a difference.

Lucy Bee contributes to the well-being of the factory workers in several ways. First and foremost, workers are paid at least 262 pesos per day (approximately $5), which seems shockingly low for us but is actually above average wages for the region and way above the average wage for comparable work.

FairTSA inspectors, also, look at and moniter  working conditions, occupational health and safety requirements, along with ensuring that workers are able to form unions or working committees to negotiate with management.

Our partner in the Philippines is FairTSA Fair Trade certified and produces products derived from coconuts and bananas. Located in Butuan City in the North of the Philippines’ southernmost large island, Mindanao, they buy coconuts from many small farmers of the surrounding villages and towns, who grow the coconuts for the coconut oil mainly in an agroforestry setting as pictured above.

The Importance of Agroforestry

In agroforestry the crops (here bananas and coconuts) are grown amongst the natural tropical vegetation and it is one of the most environmentally friendly agricultural production systems in existence. Though not part of or a requirement of Fair Trade, crops grown in agroforestry work in harmony with the scheme. Agroforestry contributes to soil fertility, cleaner water through reduced nutrient and soil run off and it allows for other crops to be grown between the coconut trees.

After Harvesting

Once harvested, the coconuts are brought to the processing facility and the coconut oil, with its many health benefits, is made from the flesh of the coconuts. The small farmers are paid a fair price for the coconuts they supply, typically at least 7% higher than they would get for their product at competing comanies. They further benefit from the community development project, paid for by the social premium by companies such as Lucy Bee Ltd. and this is planned by the producer community. Such a project is part of every FairTSA certified Fair Trade operation.

Every year, an inspector visits the small farms and the processing facility and checks if the organic and fair trade requirements for the small farmers and the workers in the processing facility are met. They evaluate if the fair price has been paid, if the community development project is progressing according to plan and other topics such as occupational health and safety and fair wages. Then the inspector sends the report to the certification agency, where the report is checked for compliance with the FairTSA Fair Trade standard by the certification reviewer and when everything is in good order the Fair Trade certificate is issued. 

Are Monkeys Used to Harvest the Coconuts?

Monkeys are NOT used to harvest the coconuts which are used for Lucy Bee Coconut Oil and this forms part of our Fair Trade certification.

Our producer from the Philippines says “In the Philippines, it is not custom to utilize monkeys or any other animals to collect coconuts from the tree. Harvesting method is either manual (climbing) or using bamboo pole.”

 With regard to our Solomon Islands oil, there are no monkeys in the Pacific islands. “Our Pacific coconut farmers do all the work of collecting, carting and selling the coconuts themselves and both they and the coconut oil producers are paid a fair wage for their efforts. This is part of our fair trade charter.”

 And our Sri Lankan oil producer commented “Sri Lanka, being primarily a Buddhist country, practices kindness to all living things. I have not witnessed these types of practices in Sri Lanka although wild monkeys do sometimes picks coconuts for their own consumption.

FairTSA

The FairTSA Fair Trade scheme also includes the factory workers that produce the coconuts. Not all Fair Trade schemes do this.

FairTSA ensure that all workers initally earn at least the minimum wage and 10% above minimum wage after 3 years. As well as checking that working conditions are safe, they ensure that workers can join trade unions if they exist in the region and, if not, they have the right to organise themselves and elect representatives who are paid to meet every month for a few hours to discuss their issues and negotiate with management.

Read the very latest news about Fair Trade on the Lucy Bee blog.

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