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Farmers have now an equal say in Fairtrade International

(by Fairtrade International)

For the first time farmers from Africa, Asia and South America had an equal say in running the global Fairtrade movement at the Fairtrade International’s annual General Assembly, held in Germany on 12 June 2013.

The new composition of the Board of Fairtrade International reflects producer equality in decision making. It comprises four producer representatives, four market representatives and three independent members. The new constitution also empowers the board to take global decisions on matters of systemwide relevance.

Marike de Peña, vice-chair of Fairtrade International and director of the banana co-operative Banelino in the Dominican Republic, said the “unique” arrangement would help serve the interests of Fairtrade’s more than one million small farmers and their workers. She added: “This is what real empowerment is about.”

Previously growers and producers in the southern hemisphere had three out of 22 votes at Fairtrade International’s annual meeting, with the majority held by national Fairtrade organizations in the consumer countries of the wealthy north.

Under reforms begun five years ago, the constitution of Fairtrade International, the global co-ordinating body for the movement, was changed in January 2013 to give producers groups and consumer countries parity.

Chief Adam Tampuri, chair of Fairtrade Africa and the Gbankuliso Cashew Farmers Association in Ghana, said: “We are convinced that what we have just achieved in Fairtrade International is a very important breakthrough: people in the south are not just beneficiaries but, for the first time, co-owners.

“This is not the end of the story and we still have a long way to go, but this fundamental step is a source of great motivation for us to strengthen and improve Fairtrade in the years to come.”

Molly Harriss Olson, Chair of Fairtrade International, said: “Producers have always been involved centrally in everything that we do. In fact there is no major decision that is taken without their guidance and support.  

“But there is a big difference between having a seat at the negotiating table (or even a few seats) and owning half of the board room.”

Fairtrade General Assembly 2013

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