As the number of Fairtrade producers organisations in the Pacific grows, so does their participation and influence in the global Fairtrade system.
Since 2010, Fairtrade producers in the Pacific increased from 6,000 to 20,000. To capitalise on this growth, Pacific producers have formally launched the Fairtrade Pacific Sub-Network.
To set up the Pacific Sub-Network, Fairtrade producer organisations drafted and approved a constitution to guide the governance of the Sub-Network and its relationship with the wider Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers, and elected a board of directors chaired by Fijian, cane sugar grower, Parbindra Singh, board member of the Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers. The constitution was the result of extensive consultation with representatives of all Fairtrade certified and applicant organisations from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, and was closely supported by Fairtrade ANZ’s producer support team. The team was pleased to observe producer representatives putting into practice the skills they gained through the several workshops on good governance conducted throughout the year.
Mr Parbindra Singh states, “As small farmers, we must work together to be successful in the highly competitive markets of agricultural commodities. Fairtrade provides an extensive platform to do just that: networking and learning.”
In 2014, more than 20,000 disadvantaged small-scale growers from the Pacific accessed the international Fairtrade market with products grown and traded fairly. These communities, often challenged by isolation, low levels of education and small economies of scale, sold their commodities into to the Fairtrade market, which reached NZD 7.65 billion in global sales last year. As members of Fairtrade, Pacific farmers take part in the system as 50% co-owners. They execute their rights and influence through Fairtrade’s General Assembly, which brings together representatives from National Fairtrade Organisations, and the three producer networks around the world (Africa, Latin America, and Asia Pacific). Producer networks ensure that producers’ voice and interests are recognised and addressed at the international level.