Fairtrade Premium Committee, a committee that distributes funds it received from Fairtrade to producers who work on farms, has been registered under the amended Civil Societies Proclamation.
Sher Ethiopia, located on the outskirts of Ziway town and a Fairtrade certified producer organization, has now registered its premium committee. Dummen orange found in Koka town, Oromia Regional State, which is also a Fairtrade certified farm, has also finalized its registration process and is expecting to receive its certificate of recognition soon.
Fairtrade Africa is an independent, non-profit umbrella organization representing all Fairtrade certified producers in Africa and the Middle East. It has various certified products in Africa and the Middle East including gold, sugar, wine, banana, cocoa, vanilla, tea, coffee and flowers. In Ethiopia, seven Coffee Farmers Cooperatives Unions, six Flower farms and one Juice farm are Fairtrade certified.
The organization works on making trade fair, empower small producers and workers and foster a sustainable livelihood. Producer organizations are certified by Fairtrade standards set by Fairtrade International. FLOCERT, which is wholly owned by Fairtrade international, but an independent body, provides audit and certification services. The requirements include ethical production, environmental protection, health and safety, protection of workers’ rights and gender equality.
On the consumers’ side, there are NFOs (National Fairtrade Organizations) that are mostly based in European countries responsible for campaigning, promoting and advocating for Fairtrade and its certified products in their respective markets.
Apart from Fairtrade Minimum Price, which is the minimum that must be paid to the producers; producers will get an additional sum called Fairtrade Premium to benefit their workers and their communities (10 percent of the sales). The premium money is administered by Fairtrade Premium Committees in the certified producer organizations who are recipients of the fund. However, these committees are required to be legally registered to access the funds.
Almost every Fairtrade certified producers across the continent and the Middle East has a legal scheme that registers and recognizes the committees, except in Ethiopia, creating a challenge for Fairtrade Africa and its certified producers in Ethiopia until the current amended law addressed the gap.
“There have been a lot of challenges in getting the Fairtrade committees registered in order to access the premium funds due to the former restrictive CSO law in the country. Workers were complaining about the use of the funds because they knew that these funds are brought from the flowers they are producing and want to benefit from it,” Mosisa Teferi, Fairtrade Officer (FTO) at Dummen Orange in Ethiopia, told The Reporter.
However, now, after the amendment of the CSO law that lifts the restriction on the registration of such committees, the farm was able to get the committee registered and access the premium funds.
Furthermore, Mosisa explained that the committee at Dummen orange will soon start implementing various projects with this fund, benefiting the workers and the community at large.
As part of these move, Fairtrade Africa, under Dignity for All (D4A) Impact program, Flower projects funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland, held a capacity building training for Fairtrade premium committees and trade union officials on the proper premium use, Fairtrade standards, roles of trade unions and stakeholders.