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What Is Fair Trade?

"As a consumer, I can really make an impact and I'm not just buying a product to make sure the worker gets their minimum wage. I'm also contributing to the producer community that makes their life worthwhile," Winfried Fuchshofen PhD, Director Fair TSA

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

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.

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

Cocnut Sugar Workers

FairTSA certified ensures that those farmers and workers who produce our products 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 products; 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. Projects to which we've contributed include:

  • the building of two wells for the local community in the Philippines, saving a two hour walk to get fresh, clean water
  • school scholarships for children and supporting education projects in the Philippines, Peru, Indonesia and India
  • solar powered energy for homes in the Philippines, Peru
  • funds for water conservation projects in India
  • a feeding programme for malnourished pupils in the Philippines
  • low-interest lending programmes for Philippine farmers
  • providing clay tubes for ovens used in making coconut sugar in Indonesia
  • providing healthcare in Indonesia
  • improving local infrastructure in Indonesia


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 in the Philippines, access to safe, clean 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, in that area.

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.

You can see how our Fair Trade premium here has made a great improvement to lives, through the building of the wells, mentioned above. These simple hand-operated wells alleviate some of the hardship in the lives of 200 people and may save many young lives.

As a consumer, every time we choose a Fair Trade product, we're helping to make a difference.

460 Indonesian Farmer Collecting Coconut Sap

How Does it Work?

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

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. In the case of our Coconut Oil, this is the farm gate price 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 products 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, in the Philippines, 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.

For all of our Fair Trade products, 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.

460Fair Trade Solomon Island Schoolchidren

The Importance of Agroforestry

In agroforestry the crops (here bananas and coconuts in the Philippines) 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.

Are Monkeys Used to Harvest the Coconuts?

Monkeys are NOT used to harvest the coconuts which are used for Lucy Bee coconut products 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 Fair Trade India (1)

The FairTSA Fair Trade scheme also includes the factory workers. 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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