October is Fair Trade Month, when we celebrate the farmers and businesses who promote equality and sustainability in the agricultural sector. When you buy anything from tea to coffee to chocolate to sugar carrying the Fairtrade Certification sticker, you are helping to support small-scale and ethical farmers who aim to prevent harm to their labourers and the environment.
But before we give you tips on how to do your bit to support Fair Trade in South Africa, we'd like to introduce you to one Vodacom Change the World volunteer who is using his skills to promote sustainable and ethical agriculture in Africa.
How Cliff Stanbury and ASNAPP support small-scale farmers in Africa
Meet Clifford Stanbury. He is the Vodacom Change the World volunteer currently working as the General Manager for the Social Enterprise at an organisation called ASNAPP, which stands for Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products. ASNAPP helps to build agribusinesses that make top-quality products using only environmentally and socially conscious practices.
This Not-for-Profit Organisation (NPO) develops successful, sustainable, socially conscious agribusinesses in Africa by providing them with income, employment and expertise. The agribusinesses they help build become important players in the industry, and set a good example for other farmers, as they rely on the same practices promoted by Fairtrade South Africa - their goods are produced with the wellbeing of the environment and their workers as a priority.
The organisation aims to give members of rural communities in Africa access to greater economic opportunities by promoting African producers as major players in agriculture. ASNAPP represents over 2 000 small-scale farmers across the continent, and by helping them and other emerging farmers to succeed as businesses and entrepreneurs, they are also helping those in the community to move up the value chain and improve their livelihoods.
Cliff's impact on ASNAPP
Cliff is a mechanical engineer with over 25 years of experience in management, and he spent the last 10 years running his own business in food processing. While the ASNAPP staff are experts in agriculture, they needed greater management expertise, and that's where Cliff comes in. He needs to finalise the legal structure and framework within ASNAPP to make sure that the Social Enterprise and the NPO can operate alongside successfully, while continuing to serve the communities where 'Agri Incubator' opportunities have been found.
There is no doubt that Cliff's passion to make a difference combined with his hard-earned experience in engineering and the food industry will make a lasting impact on the future of farming in Africa.
How you can make a difference
There are a few ways that you, as a consumer, can support emerging and small-scale farmers who produce their goods without harming their labourers or the environment.
- Vote 'Fairtrade' with your wallet: Make sure you only buy coffee, chocolate, tea, sugar, cotton and other agricultural products from farms that have earned Fairtrade Certification - in other words, farms that are carbon neutral, guarantee a fair return to small-scale farmers, and are developing ways to adapt to climate change.
- Educate yourself: Take a look at Fairtrade South Africa's resources to find out more about how climate change can affect the products you consume every day, and how irresponsible farming practices can damage individuals and communities.
- Demand action from retailers, suppliers and government: Tweet or post on Facebook to ask whether the retailers you visit support Fairtrade Certified producers; ask coffee and chocolate companies whether their goods are made with Fairtrade products; and remind government about the importance of supporting small-scale, environmentally conscious farmers.
To find out more about how to make a change in the coffee industry, go to Fairtrade South Africa here, and to shop for Fairtrade products online to be delivered to your door, go to the Fairtrade shop here. And don't just do it because October is Fair Trade month - shop ethically every month of the year to make an impact on the future of our natural resources and the most vulnerable communities on our continent.