AFRICAN PRODUCERS SET TO INCREASE THEIR BARGAINING POWER
Nairobi, 20 September 2012 – African producers are gathering in Ethiopia to strengthen their position in the value chain. With the renewed attention to agriculture as a major driver of development, this is the right time for producer organisations to position themselves as key actors. Small-scale farmers and workers are meeting in Addis Ababa in light of the Africa Fairtrade Convention (AFC) from the 1st till the 5th of November 2012.
After successful editions in Zimbabwe and Ghana, the AFC is becoming a firm fixture on the agricultural development agenda. The multi-day event provides a platform for relevant actors to discuss how better trade conditions can help improve the livelihoods of African farmers and workers. Apart from the Fairtrade Africa Forum, participants can also take part in workshops and field trips or attend the Fairtrade & Organic Expo. The event is organised by Fairtrade Africa. Fairtrade is an international movement that works to protect and support small-scale farmers and workers in the South. Today, Fairtrade Africa supports over 700,000 farmers and workers through 310 producer organisations in 29 countries across the continent.
Despite agro-food systems like Fairtrade, most African producers still receive the lowest earnings in the whole chain due to lack of access to decent public infrastructure, financial resources and up-to-date market prices. During the AFC, producers will discuss how to increase their participation in the value chain process and enhance their bargaining power – leading to an increase of salaries, a productivity boost, and an overall improvement of livelihoods.
‘Strengthening their position in the value chain will not only have a substantial impact on producers’ lives, producer empowerment will also positively affect food security and help African countries reach the Millennium Development Goals,’ underlines Fairtrade Africa’s Executive Director Michael Nkonu. ‘The Africa Fairtrade Convention puts African small-scale farmers and workers at the centre of the empowerment debate.’
Due to Ethiopia’s large peasant agricultural population, its rapid economic growth rate and its significance in several Fairtrade supply chains, Ethiopia was selected as the conference city of this year’s edition.
‘Although we have gained access to coffee markets across the globe, farmers are not yet reaping the benefits they are entitled to,’ explains Tadesse Meskala, who heads Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, a Fairtrade coffee producer organisation which represents over 100,000 Ethiopian small-scale farmers. ‘It is not a lack of natural resources but the formulation of trading mechanisms that makes us poorer and poorer. Platforms like the Africa Fairtrade Convention help us identify solutions to overcome these barriers.’
For the first time, Fairtrade Africa is collaborating with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), enabling AFC participants to attend the ’Making the Connection’ conference on the same visit to Addis Ababa. ‘Making the connection’, which also focuses on the role of smallholders in the value chain, will take place immediately after the AFC. Outcomes of the AFC will feed into ‘Making the Connection’, giving producers a greater and coordinated voice.
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