5 Fairtrade Products You Should Switch to Right NowFairtrade products are certain items that consumers can buy that comes with a certified seal. This seal ensures that the product was manufactured under quality working conditions, a safe environment and protected human rights. In 2017, 50% of the global population didn’t grow in wealth while the top 1% doubled their wealth. Fairtrade products are a way to ensure that money doesn’t go entirely to corporations and workers can make a liveable wage off of their work. Fairtrade products are often only a few cents more; yet, they can make all the difference when consumers choose to switch to fairtrade products.

Fairtrade During the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fairtrade partnered with other companies to provide a COVID-19 relief fund. Within two years the partnerships pledged to provide €15 million to Fairtrade’s Producer Relief and Resilience Funds. The money spent on Fairtrade products not only goes to the livelihood of the workers but also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. The funds will also help small businesses get back on their feet. This will aid with short and long-term relief to Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Most workers make $2 a day for their labor. Buying Fairtrade products will help people across the globe create a sustainable life for themselves. Here are some common products that consumers can buy under Fairtrade:

  1. Chocolate: Coca is one of the most detrimental products to produce with one of the most corrupt industries. Coca often causes “poverty, deforestation, gender inequality, child labor and forced labor.” By choosing to buy brands of Fair Trade chocolate such as Divine Chocolate, consumers will be helping workers obtain a liveable income, better relationships with the companies, receive COVID-19 relief aid and maintain a higher minimum price to protect them from price drops.
  2. Wine: There are more than 50 vineyards that provide Fairtrade wines from Argentina to South Africa. By choosing wines such as Don David Malbec, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Azana White Blend, Co-op Irresistible Sauvignon Blanc and Cape Original Moscato Rosé, small-scale farmers are able to “join independent trade unions and enter into collective agreements with vineyard owners.” With this, they are able to “invest in social, economic and environmental improvements.” With wine, in particular, Fairtrade also protects the workers against “toxic agrochemicals” that farmers sometimes spray in vineyards.
  3. Coffee: Coffee, along with wine, is a heavily used product. Fairtrade offers coffee farmers trade with a minimum price, terms of trade and Fairtrade Premium. Fairtrade Premium allots the workers with extra money on top of the original price to help their communities. Some of the Fairtrade coffee brands include Cafédirect, Equal Exchange and Higher Ground Roasters. Starbuck also provides Fairtrade products.
  4. Ice Cream: There are many Fairtrade ice cream brands, and many consumers are already eating them. Ben and Jerry’s focuses its business around fair trade products. The company uses all fair trade ingredients, which mostly include cocoa and coffee. Their contribution to fair trade provided coca farmers with $1.5 million in premiums. Using the premiums, farmers can improve their agricultural approves and built their community. Fairtrade also states that since its 2010 partnership with Ben and Jerry’s, the “premium funds have benefitted more than 1,400 farmers and their families through the construction of a medical center, libraries, schools and the production of 400 tons of compost!”
  5. Cotton: Almost 26 million tons of cotton are harvested every year, yet the cost of cotton remains low. Cotton causes many environmental issues such as the use of agrochemicals, water use and polluted water. This causes many of the cotton producers to put their fresh water at risk. By buying Fairtrade cotton, consumers can protect the cotton industry’s health and safety. Fairtrade also focuses on “unsafe and unfair labor conditions in cotton processing and textile factories.”

These five products are just a few of the Fairtrade products available. A way to know which products to buy is to look for the Fairtrade seal on the product, which is black with a green and blue figure labeled “Fairtrade.” These products are endorsed by Fairtrade America and more products such as bananas, flowers, sugar, tea, honey and vegetables are provided in Fairtrade. With fair trade products that promote sustainable products as well as sustainable living, agricultural workers can improve their living conditions and wages, and ultimately rise out of poverty.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

Entomophagy Reducing PovertyEntomophagy is the practice of eating insects. Throughout history and across geographical areas, adopting this diet has been a common and beneficial practice. Approximately 2 billion people across at least 99 countries regularly eat insects for protein, vitamins, minerals and fat content compared to meat or fish. There are about 1,900 edible insect species, from which humans eat eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Insects of choice include bees, wasps, beetles, moths, caterpillars, crickets and grasshoppers. In recent years, researchers have explored this avenue and begun to consider the means by which entomophagy can reduce poverty.

Health Benefit

For years, insects have been viewed as a delicacy around the world. People eat boiled larvae with a nutty flavor and snack on crunchy beetles like popcorn. But bugs are also beneficial for their nutritional content: cooked grasshoppers, for example, can have up to three times the amount of protein and one-third the amount of fat compared to a hamburger. In low-income areas, insects are easily accessible from nature. People living in poverty could benefit significantly from this availability by either consuming them to prevent undernutrition or selling them at local markets to generate income.

Environmental Benefit

According to the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research, insects are up to 20 times more efficient in converting food into edible tissue than cattle. Additionally, insects require far fewer resources and development to cultivate than other animals, which enables faster production (though this varies depending on the type of insect). Consuming insects offers a way to reduce crop-disrupting bugs without toxic or expensive insecticides. There is also little waste compared to cattle or other western proteins, which have to be processed and are only 40-50% edible. In contrast, people usually eat the entire insect.

Carbon emissions are lower in comparison to livestock. According to the Nutrition Bulletin from the Journal of the British Nutrition Foundation, the CO2 equivalent for beef is 2,058g/kg of mass gain, while insects have a CO2 equivalent of 68g/kg of mass gain. Many individual insect species leave an even smaller footprint.

Economic Benefit

The insect industry is diverse and can contribute to many markets. Silkworms are often used for fabrics and food, for instance, and weaver ants deter pests. The Chinese company HaoCheng Mealworm Inc. sells mealworms as flour, candy, condiments and instant noodles for human consumption. Also, this venture processes the worms into pet food for dogs, cats, birds and goldfish. Entomophagy provides economic contributions anywhere from street food businesses to commercialized companies.

Insect farming provides many employment opportunities for those living in rural areas of developing countries. Sericulturethe production and processing of silkwormsdemands 11 workdays per kilogram of raw silk, a higher employment rate than any other industry. The majority of insect farming and gathering is performed on a relatively small scale through family-owned businesses, often in rural areas where employment and income are desperately needed.

Trading these insect-produced goods is essential for developing countries as well. Zimbabwe deals with countries including South Africa, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Many countries in Africa, Asia and South America export insects for food. Even Europe and the United States have begun importing these products despite the relative lack of consumption in Western countries.

Thailand has a particularly prominent market for insect consumption, with imports estimated at $10/kilogram. For comparison, beef is $3.03/kilogram, and glutinous rice is $0.82/kilogram. Additionally, Thailand’s imports of these products total $1.14 million per year.

Regulations and Compliance of the Emerging Insect Market

National and international organizations play a crucial role in regulating the insect market. The Dutch Insect Farmers Association has been vital in lobbying to promote legislation and policies designed to improve quality standards, compliance and legal trading of these products.

While most of the Western paradigm does not consider insects to be a tasty snack or gourmet meal, continuing to research and develop this emerging market could prove essential in fully utilizing entomophagy to reduce poverty in rural areas.

– Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Wikipedia

tools to solve farmer povertyFarmers constitute around 75 percent of the world’s poor. This fact is singularly important considering the perspective that global poverty is solvable by providing easily accessible, effective and economical farming solutions to people around the world.

Experts believe there are three simple tools to solve farmer poverty. These are:

  1. Hybrid seeds
  2. Skill training
  3. Microloans

How to Best Address the World’s Current Needs

The world is struggling to meet the demands of consistently rising rates of population and consumption There are only two alternatives to meet this increasing demand and multiply production: either dedicate more forest land to farming or increase the efficiency and productivity of the existing farmland.

Increasing land use is an inefficient short-term solution that is also detrimental to the environment, whereas the latter option can be achieved as an enduring solution. The most simple and proven way to produce a greater volume of crops from existing farmlands is through the use of hybrid seeds.

Using Hybrid Seeds as Tools to Solve Farmer Poverty

Hybrid seeds are one of the three simple tools to solve farmer poverty. Using a hybrid can yield a product that has the benefits of both its parents; for example, improved resistance toward disease from one and climate tolerance and high yield from the other. Several agricultural experiments in Africa, South America and South Asia have successfully proven the effectiveness of hybrid seeds in multiplying the crop production.

In rural Kenya, a farmer support initiative called One Acre Fund reported an average gain of 65 percent in farmer income using hybrid maize seeds along with microdoses of fertilizers in 2017 alone. Several farmers reported that they doubled or tripled their produce.

Skill Training as the Second Solution to Farmer Poverty

One of the other two tools to solve farmer poverty is skill training. Providing skill training to farmers can help them navigate their lives out of poverty’s vicious circle. Skill training can range from simple things like seed spacing or the right amount of irrigation to more advanced cultivation techniques; for example, sustainable agricultural practices and innovative cross-pollination methods.

In March, the Indian government’s Ministries of Agriculture and Skill Development signed an agreement to impart training and skill development to farmers at 690 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (farming science centers) all over the country. The scheme aims to double the farmer income.

Solving Farmer Poverty Through Microloans

The third one among the three simple tools to solve farmer poverty is microloans. As the name suggests, a microloan is a small amount of money borrowed from a bank or a local financial institution. Microloans are an essential key to solve poverty due to a small principal amount ($2 – $500), small monthly installments (only a few cents), flexible tenure (12 to 60 months) and a low-interest rate (12 – 20 percent).

Startups like Branch and LendUp are helping farmers in developing countries to borrow money using their mobile phones. Branch charges 15 percent interest on a loan as low as $2 at the end of a month. It never charges an overdraft fee and employs 100 employees in San Francisco, Lagos and Nairobi.

Though they appear to be small changes, these three simple tools to solve farmer poverty can change the world sooner than it might seem.

– Himja Sethi

Photo: Flickr

Climate change in ColombiaHistorically, Colombian farmers have had beneficial cultivating environments with reliable rainfall. In recent years, the increasing climate change in Colombia has inflicted substantial turmoil through flooding and drought.

“Colombia is very vulnerable to phenomena of extreme climate variability and climate change,” stated the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Luis Gilberto Murillo. To build their resilience, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has collaborated with national partners by designing a South-South exchange with Senegalese organizations. The exchange’s objective is for Colombian partners to acquire knowledge from the experiences of farmers in Senegal.

CIAT was founded on October 17, 1967 and functions in collaboration with numerous partners to assist developing countries in crafting more competitive, profitable and durable farming through its efficient and sustainable natural resource management. With this principle, the organization aims to help policymakers, scientists and farmers in understanding the key adversities of our world which include food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change and environmental ruin.

The global research contributes to several of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic goals, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and partnerships for the goals. The international partnerships work cost-effectively and realistically together. Diversity is regarded as a key asset, for adjusting easily to the existing climate change in Colombia and striving to improve progress through continuous education.

From acclimatizing to rigorous climate changes for millennia, the Senegalese partners have established an abundance of indigenous knowledge on techniques for monthly droughts. In the framework of this phenomenal international collaboration, these partners have acquired fresh new proficiency and expertise on incorporating site-specific communication towards the climate change in Colombia. This has resulted in Senegalese partners providing agro climatic forecasts to Colombian farmers, including instructions that match their specific contexts. There are 154,059 Colombian farmers who are now receiving agro climatic orders and an additional 6,000 have implemented climate-smart practices. In the medium-term, the project is expected to reach 1,588,640 farmers.

With climate change affecting the world in various ways, it’s a relief to know that Colombia is fostering these programs. Agricultural research is an essential tool in producing new technologies, methods and knowledge that enhance farmers’ preparations and make production more eco-efficient, especially for low-income smallholders.

Thanks to CIAT, more than 5,000 Colombians have enhanced their knowledge of agriculture and their aptitude through the abundant training opportunities offered. Furthermore, CIAT and its partnerships have designed an advanced biosciences platform that provides ready access to cutting-edge technologies with the aim of having agriculture be more competitive. There are always opportunities to improve agriculture and Colombia has worked with its Senegalese partners for training and education on new techniques. It’s all part of the global collaboration to help nourish their people during these difficult climate changes.

– Nicole Suárez

Photo: Flickr

According to the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), four out of five people in Africa depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. However, it remains the only region in the developing world to have low and declining agricultural development, with a per capita output totaling 56 percent of the world average.

In addition, according to a study conducted by the ECA, Africa’s per capita agricultural output has declined by five percent over the last twenty years while other developing nations have seen a 40 percent increase.

However, given that the region is home to about 60 percent of the world’s arable land, the expansion of new markets and sustainable technologies proposed by the ECA can help alleviate poverty in Africa and reduce income inequality.

Many of those who depend on agriculture to survive live in rural areas with little access to research and technology. This means that outside investment is often necessary in order for a country to maintain sustainable farming rituals.

Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy Division at the ECA, suggests that agricultural productivity must be increased and combined with practical agribusiness in order to add value to crops and improve access to markets for farmers.

This value broadens economic growth and can ultimately lead to food security throughout Africa. According to the World Bank, China’s agricultural development was responsible for the 45 percent decline in rural poverty between the years of 1981 and 2001.

The same study shows that within Africa, Ghana was able to reduce poverty rates by 24 percent over the last 15 years due to promising agricultural output.

In order for agriculture to play a larger part in poverty reduction throughout Africa, sustainable farming methods must be adapted in order to raise farm incomes. Public investments could provide the access to land and irrigation systems that are otherwise unavailable in rural parts of the country.

Once resources are more readily available, productivity and market access can also increase. Innovations in biotechnology that can make crops more productive lead to a more secure food supply that in turn lowers prices. Smallholder farmers can make a comfortable living and feed other farming families within their communities.

According to the World Bank, education in rural areas is vital for agricultural development and for new farmers to learn skills relevant to emerging job markets. Investing in agricultural development education is a vital step toward ending rural poverty in Africa.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: Star Africa, World Bank
Photo: Flickr

feed_the_futureDaniel Obare used to be a subsistence farmer. His family ate most of the tomatoes and green peppers he grew, and he sold the surplus on the side. Today, he cultivates watermelons on three acres of land and uses cutting-edge farming techniques. He and his family have experienced a huge lifestyle improvement thanks to the agricultural guidance of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative.

Most Tanzanian farmers do not have the training or equipment required to properly use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They use untreated seeds planted at random distances apart in sunken beds and often rely on rainfall for precious irrigation. These inefficient techniques result in lower yields, farms that are more vulnerable to extreme weather and high levels of pollution caused by chemical runoff.

In September 2014, Obare attended a farmer’s convention in Mbeya called the Nane Nane Fair. There, he met members of the Tanzania Horticultural Association, a group run by Tanzanians and supported by USAID.

With their help, Obare learned more modern farming techniques and dramatically increased his yield. “My lifestyle has completely changed. For instance, my daughter, who was in a government school, has been transferred into a private school that has more facilities. I can confidently pay 1.5 million TZS [$740] for her annual school fees,” Obare said.

Obare’s experience in Tanzania is indicative of a greater trend throughout Africa. USAID’s Feed the Future initiative works in 12 African nations supporting groups like the Tanzania Horticultural Association. The programs differ by country, from the small farmer training and support in Tanzania to trade hub programs in Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

“The trade hub provides targeted technical assistance to governments, the private sector and civil society organizations to advance regional trade within southern Africa while incorporating gender integration, environment compliance and strategic outreach in all activities,” a USAID report stated.

Feed the Future is ultimately trying to give developing nations a strong economic base in sustainable agriculture. Their initiatives focus on efficiency, resilience in the face of a changing climate and gender equality. Their impact has been felt by small farmers and administrators alike.

James Bever, a former mission director for USAID, is enthusiastic about the program’s potential. When asked about the Feed the Future programs in Ghana, he told reporters that agribusiness has the potential to really take off, especially in northern Ghana.

“It is a sustainable model and we are extremely excited about it,” he said. “I think Ghana is in the path to an agricultural revolution that really can turn the northern part of the country to a bread basket and reduce imports. The north is where there is a real potential for quick improvement in grain production such as rice, white and yellow maize and sorghum, which are marketable.”

The dedication of local agricultural groups is turning USAID’s support into skills and their goals into reality. More farmers are being helped every day, and despite the challenges they face, small farmers in Africa are living markedly better lives.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: Feed the Future 1, Business Ghana USAID 1, Feed the Future 2 USAID 2
Photo: Flickr

In order to help improve access opportunities between smallholder farmers and private sector distributors in Mozambique, the United States Agency For International Development (USAID) initiated four public-private partnerships amounting to $30 million in 2014. On June 3, USAID signed four memorandums of understanding to further propel the partnerships into action. The memorandums were signed in the presence of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Luisa Meque, and U.S. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths.

USAID launched the partnerships as a part of Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, a program that creates partnerships for development between USAID missions and the private sector. The partnerships in Mozambique are predicted to increase opportunities for 50,000 smallholder farmers in the provinces of Manica, Nampula, Tete and Zambezia.

The project has partnered the U.S.’s National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International with farmer-owned company IKURU and start-up seed-provider Phoenix Seeds to facilitate better distribution of services and inputs. Various representatives from IKURU and Phoenix Seeds will also be trained to better serve small communities. This partnership is expected to assist 10,000 smallholder farmers within three years.

Export Marketing Company Limited, Agro Tractors and Techno Brain have also partnered to create 23 retail hubs comprised of agro-input retailers, equipment suppliers and storage facilities to benefit 23,000 smallholder farmers. Rental services and training workshops will be available for farmers, along with new market opportunities.

Additionally, 10,000 Mozambican farmers in Zambezia and Nampula will receive access to imported seeds and inputs through the new partnership between Portuguese supplier Lusosem Mocambique, Lda., Colorado-based International Development Enterprises and HUB Assistancia Technica e Formacao. The partnership will involve guidance in agro-dealer expansion and training for agribusiness development in rural communities.

Through the final partnership, Illinois-based Opportunity International will provide financial training to Banco Oportunidade de Mozambique in order to provide banking services for 5,000 sesame and soybean farmers.

These partnerships are part of a larger 10-year strategic agricultural development plan developed by USAID with the Mozambican government. According to USAID, Mozambique’s agricultural sector provides employment for the vast majority of the nation’s labor force and has the potential to boost the country’s economic growth significantly. Additionally, USAID in Mozambique focuses on agricultural development in order to create sustainable systems, which can ultimately decrease malnutrition and poverty rates throughout the country.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: All Africa, Feed the Future, Partnering For Innovation, Star Africa, USAID
Photo: Feed the Future

The greatest challenge of a generation remains as the world figures out in the decades ahead how to feed an additional two billion people. Unprecedented population growth, rising incomes in the developing world and a growing need for energy contribute to the increase in demand for agricultural products. Agricultural development is needed now more than ever to meet this demand, but if Brazil‘s success in recent decades is any indicator, development can be improved worldwide to address global poverty.

Agricultural Development or Perpetuated Hunger?

Depending on the actions of the international community, this increase in demand will lead the world down one of two paths. If agricultural production is not increased, millions of people will increasingly be left in a state of perpetual hunger. On the other hand, the increase in demand for agricultural products can be seen as an opportunity for economic development through new food markets in the developing world.

While there is a certain amount of truth to the argument that the global food security problem stems from distribution rather than production, there is also strong evidence that an increase in production is possible — and necessary. Economists predict that as incomes and population rise, the global demand for food will increase 60 percent by 2050. This means that the world will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as they did in the last thousand.

If done properly, agricultural development can be a driving force for economic development and poverty reduction. Research conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggests that global food security is particularly advanced with increases of the agricultural potential of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The benefits are two-fold: the increase in agricultural income for smallholder farmers can lift millions out of chronic hunger, and the increase in production can provide more food to the global market as a whole.

How can a country best facilitate agricultural development? The simple answer is through investment research and training in science-based agriculture. The success story of Brazil best illustrates this methodology.

Brazil’s Success Story

Through investments in agricultural research, Brazil has moved from a net importer of food to one of the world’s largest breadbaskets. Between 1996 and 2006, the total value of Brazil’s crops rose by 365%. The tropical country has now caught up with the “big five” grain exporters (America, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the European Union) – all of which are temperate producers.

This astounding progress has been made through the successes of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation – Embrapa for short. Since its founding in 1973, Brazil has doubled its cultivated land and multiplied its agricultural output by six. Antonio Lopes, the president of Embrapa, says that the success lies in the delicate balance between agricultural expansion and land conservation.

Because no model for successful agricultural development in a tropical climate existed previously, Brazil was forced to create its own. First, they increased the amount of ploughable land by adding lime and nitrogen-fixing bacteria to soil that was previously unfit for farming. Second, they introduced a larger-leafed variety of grass and converted part of the new land into pastures so as to allow for the expansion of Brazil’s beef herd. Third, and perhaps most importantly, they converted temperate-climate soybeans into a tropical crop through genetic modification. Last, Embrapa encouraged and integrated new operation farm techniques such as “no-till” agriculture and forest, agriculture and livestock integration.

According to Lopes, Brazil will continue to invest in agriculture research and development for the foreseeable future. Brazil should serve as an example to the rest of the world for the ways in which private and public investment can transform a developing country in the tropics into an agricultural powerhouse.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Source: InterAction, The Economist
Photo: Guardian