Raising a glass to Fairtrade

Over the last three decades, the Fairtrade Foundation has rallied a global community of millions, including more than 2 million farmers and workers, to push for fairer prices and decent working conditions. Together with the public, businesses and governments, the organisation has also raised over £1 billion in Fairtrade Premium, which is an extra sum of money that producers can invest into their businesses and communities. Wine producers have used it to fund improvements in healthcare, schools, or to introduce sustainability initiatives.

With an expanding range of award-winning wines – from reds and whites to rosés and alcohol-free, Fairtrade has been making its mark.

Becky Forecast, Sustainable Sourcing Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation said: “Fairtrade offers stability for the workers behind the wines we enjoy. The best way right now to support producers is to buy Fairtrade wine.”

The Fairtrade Minimum Price provides producers with a financial safety net and aims to cover the average costs of production. Fairtrade certified farms must also provide decent working conditions for their workers. For example, under the Fairtrade Standards some highly toxic agro-chemicals that are often sprayed in vineyards are banned and guidance is provided on the safe application of less toxic ones. Not only does this protect the well-being of farmers but also the world around them.

To further protect their environment, Koopmanskloof in South Africa decided to dedicate 98 hectares of land for conservation and manages it in partnership with Cape Nature. According to the winery: “Kloopmanskloof is synonymous with great wines but should perhaps be better known for its contribution to conservation.”

Using the Fairtrade Premium payments, Koopmanskloof has also invested in their community by providing a creche and aftercare facility. According to the co-operative, these facilities give the children an advantage and prepare them for school. They also provide formal music training and have set up a football club, which is part of the greater Stellenbosch Local Football Association.

In Argentina, La Riojana has invested their Fairtrade Premium funds in various projects to benefit workers, families, and local communities. For example, in Tilimuqui – a largely isolated village home to many of La Riojana’s workers and their families – the funds were used to build a water facility that supplies residents with clean drinking water. Previously, the availability of water was unreliable which, with summer temperatures reaching 45oC, affected people’s health, hygiene, and education. Now, with Fairtrade, things are different. “Once we had water, everything changed. Without water, you don’t have life,” says co-operative member Daniel Casiva.

After the success of the water project, La Riojana invested the Fairtrade Premium in the construction of a secondary school in Tilimuqui. The school itself offers a free agricultural-based technical education to hundreds of children aged 13-18, who might not otherwise be able to attend secondary school, with a high-quality education and a chance for a better future. In addition, La Riojana has recently built Los Pioneros medical centre using Fairtrade funds, which will offer healthcare to over 10,000 people living locally.

Sagrada Familia, one of the oldest groups of Fairtrade certified wine producers, has invested their Fairtrade Premium in education and health programmes, trainings, recreational activities, as well as for emergencies such as the earthquake in 2010. According to Fairtrade wine producer, Victor Aguilera: “A large part of the Premium has gone to an educational fund for children of producers and workers, which has allowed more than 40 students to finance their professional careers and to change their lives completely, as well as their families’, and produce virtuous effects in the community. We believe that education is the basis for all change and progress, and for building a better society.”

Today, you can enjoy flavourful Fairtrade wines crafted by over 50 growers and vineyards across Argentina, Chile, and South Africa, with the knowledge that you are helping to ensure that the workers and small-scale growers behind those wines can get a fairer deal.

“For me at its core, wine is about enjoyment. Obviously, that includes enjoying the actual taste of the wine, but it's also about enjoying the moments in which we choose to open a bottle. It seems completely against the grain then, to drink a wine which is the product of a less-than- joyful situation,” says Aleesha Hansel, Fairtrade Ambassador and wine expert.

She adds: “By choosing Fairtrade, you know that you are helping to ensure that the workers and small-scale growers behind those wines can get a fairer deal – and I don't know about you, but that brings me joy.”

Farmers and workers urgently need better prices and fairer wages, so that they can adapt to challenges such as the climate crisis, rising production costs and ongoing market volatility. At Fairtrade we remain committed to our vision of a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods. As we celebrate our 30th milestone, we know Fairtrade couldn’t be more relevant.

To find out more about the work of the Fairtrade Foundation visit www.fairtrade.org.uk

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