31 March, 2018

World Health Day: Changing health outcomes one farming community at a time

ECOOKIM Fairtrade certified cocoa producer
by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand

As we reflect on World Health Day, consider this one story of hope.

In Australia, the maternal mortality rate is one in 10,000. In Indonesia, the lifetime risk of a mother dying during pregnancy or child birth is 22.8 for each 10,000 live births. In nearby Papua New Guinea, this is a staggering one in 20 women.

Australia’s mortality rate for children under five is 3.7 per 1,000, while in Papua New Guinea it is 54.3. Meanwhile, a child dies every three minutes somewhere in Indonesia.

These sobering statistics illustrates the gaping disparity in health outcomes between developed and developing nations. And while it is hard to fathom how any of us could change these statistics by making a choice in the coffee we purchase, this is indeed the case.

As we reflect on World Health Day, consider this one story of hope.

On the eleventh day of every month, 100 children from around Central Aceh in Sumatra, Indonesia, visit the local hospital for their regular health check-up. 

Mei Yeni, the hospital’s chief midwife, usually works alone, but on this eleventh day, her team expands to four trained staff who help her provide medical care. For the children and their families, these monthly hospital visits are an essential first step in what will probably be a lifetime of access to healthcare.

The hospital provides healthcare to the community that lives around Koperasi Baithul Qiradh Baburrayyan – a coffee growing cooperative in Western Sumatra that’s known as KBQB for short. Since KBQB started selling its coffee on Fairtrade terms, the cooperative has democratically chosen to invest its Fairtrade Premium in farming, business and community projects. One of these projects is the children’s and women’s hospital where Mei Yeni works, helping pregnant women give birth, and caring for newborns and children.

The hospital is just one example of how Fairtrade – and the people who choose to support Fairtrade brands – has a profound and positive influence on people’s lives.

Mei Yeni’s maternal and paediatric health centre in Sumatra is just the beginning. In Papua New Guinea, 99 per cent of farmers in two Fairtrade certified cooperatives have access to a healthcare centre, and half of those say it is located within a half hour from their home. 

The United Nations has set a critical goal to secure universal healthcare by 2030. Achieving this goal requires everyone’s efforts. By working with farming communities to ensure they receive a fair price for their coffee, Fairtrade is improving healthcare services where they are desperately needed.

And by choosing that cup of Fairtrade coffee, consumers can do their bit to improve health services and help people in developing communities create a better future for themselves.

Molly Harriss Olson
CEO Fairtrade ANZ
Italian choco-confectionery giant Ferrero Rocher has announced they will source 40,000 metric tons of Fairtrade certified cocoa by 2019 – and ECOOKIM is their main supplier. Ferrero and Fairtrade started working together in 2014. By the end of 2015, Ferrero had sourced 8,800 metric tonnes as Fairtrade and their commitment has kept growing. The latest announcement brings the luxury chocolatier a step closer to its goal of using 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa by 2020. 

It’s part of a plan by Ferrero to make sure cocoa farming is a sustainable industry and that small-scale farming can be a viable career option for young people in cocoa growing countries. And the farmers who make up the ECOOKIM union do indeed work on a small scale. In fact, the average farmer works a plot of 3.5ha and produces about 680kg of cocoa per hectare of land. These small volumes can leave farmers vulnerable to failed crops, climate change, or sharp drops in market prices, but the stability Fairtrade offers can help make them more resilient. 

Farmers selling Fairtrade certified cocoa know they will receive at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price for their produce – even if the standard market price has fallen below it – as well as a Fairtrade Premium that can be invested by the cooperatives in whatever they decide, from training, to tools, to schools for local children. It gives farmers certainty about their income and helps them plan for brighter futures. 

So far Fairtrade training has helped farmers increase their cocoa volume, while the Premium – $US1.4M from Ferrero’s purchases – has funded water pumps and schools for the ECOOKIM communities. A pilot program to prevent child labour and exploitation has also benefitted more than 9,400 children. What’s more, Ferrero’s commitment to 100 percent certified sustainable cocoa means their relationship with the farmers of ECOOKIM will be a long-term one.  

And if anyone is starting to feel peckish reading about all that cocoa, you’ll be pleased to know the majority of the ECOOKIM produce is classed as Cocoa Grade 1, the highest classification. So with 40,000MT being enough to fill about 32 Olympic swimming pools, that is a lot of very good cocoa being turned into very good chocolate.

For more information about the Fairtrade Sourcing Program and how it's providing more benefits to farmers and their communities, read more here

For more information about Ferrero’s sourcing commitment, check out their Corporate Sustainability Report, Sharing Value by Creating Value, www.ferrerocsr.com

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