Fairtrade Art Exhibition Stori bilong Fairtrade

Deingi Fulunga Neknasi Coffee Farmer
New Fairtrade art exhibition Stori Bilong Fairtrade set to take visitors on a journey through the eyes of Fairtrade farmers.

As we savour our morning coffee, pack a banana for the kid’s lunch or sneak a bite of chocolate as three-thirty-itis sets in, it’s easy to forget the long journey these products have taken to reach us. But that’s a journey the team at Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand take when they visit the communities growing these products which have become a part of New Zealand’s way of life. It’s this journey that is at the heart of a new exhibition, Stori Bilong Fairtrade, launching this weekend at The Depot Artspace in Auckland.

Through candid portraits Stori Bilong Fairtrade looks to capture the journey these farmers take as their communities are supported by Fairtrade to access new markets and realise new opportunities.

Globally, Fairtrade has supported farming communities for almost three decades, and now works with over 1.65 million farmers in 74 countries. Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand’s Producer Support and Relations team works closely with more than 40,000 producers in the Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste, supporting them to develop strong and resilient producer organisations and businesses, with the aim of fostering the sustainable development of their communities.

Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand CEO Molly Harriss Olson explains:

“With over 250 businesses selling more than 3,000 Fairtrade certified products in New Zealand and Australia, increasing productivity and product quality is more important than ever, all while upholding Fairtrade’s social, economic and environmental standards.”

 “In New Zealand we are familiar with many of the challenges facing farmers – environmental fluctuations, consumer demand and of course securing a fair price,” says Harriss Olson, “But we don’t tend to think about the additional challenges farmers in developing countries face – if they don’t have access to relevant information for example, they are at a severe disadvantage in our global economy.”

The Producer Support and Relations team has an alternative approach to training, which is reflective of the literacy challenges sometimes faced in these rural farming communities. This approach is implemented through the Fairtrade Producer Library, a compilation of training tools based on stories, which are told through illustrations and presented as games. This methodology gives a voice to trainees (the farmers) by challenging them to share their interpretation of the given illustrated stories. Using their own analysis, farmers arrive at the relevant concepts. As a result, they take ownership of their new knowledge, becoming storytellers, messengers, and trainers themselves.  “Learning through images is very interesting; farmers really enjoy the games and they are learning too. I am taking the library to remote areas in Wasu, so others can learn about Fairtrade too” says Kum Ninsonga, Project Manager of Alang Daom Cooperative Society located in Papua New Guinea.

The Library recently became part of Fairtrade International’s global training bank, available in seven languages. Currently it is being tested by farming communities across India, South East Asia, West Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and China.

“Using games and puzzles has proven an effective way to engage farmers, and even the broader communities, in learning about these important social and environmental factors,” says Harriss Olson.

Visitors are encouraged to trial the Producer Library which will be on display as part of the exhibition which runs from 3-21 September at the Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence Street, Devonport, Auckland. Entry is free.