Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand’s Producer Support and Relations team hosted the second Fairtrade Pacific Sub-Network Meeting in Papua New Guinea at the end of July. Nearly 50 Fairtrade stakeholders from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji and New Zealand convened in Madang to share their experiences and make plans for the future of the regional Fairtrade sub-network. The highlight of the meeting was the session conducted by Fairtrade buyers, their perspective of the market shedding light on opportunities for Pacific-based Fairtrade Certified producers; business opportunities that could improve Pacific participation in the global Fairtrade market worth a total of €5 billion in 2011.
Fairtrade is a certification system that empowers smallholder producers in developing countries to reach international markets and guarantees that products carrying the Fairtrade Label are produced and traded under fair conditions.
During the meeting in Madang, traders brought new ideas for crop diversification to certified producers, who learnt about the demand in the Australian and New Zealand markets for Fairtrade Certified cocoa, coffee, fresh fruit, spices and coconuts from the Pacific islands and about the market-based potential for development in the agricultural sectors of Pacific countries like PNG, Samoa and Fiji.
The meeting provided an opportunity for producers to share their experiences participating in events with Fairtrade ANZ in the past year, including the participation of PNG coffee growers Finan Romaso from Yha Hauka Kopi Limited, Moung Bungun from Neknasi Coffee Growers Cooperative Society, and Daniel Kinne from Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative at the first Fairtrade Asia/Pacific Coffee Forum held in Indonesia in November of last year. For Moung this event was his first opportunity to travel abroad and to learn about the different approaches to the Fairtrade coffee business in the Asia/Pacific region; Romaso’s attendance is already bringing new business opportunities to YHK, which Fairtrade ANZ hopes will expand to other Fairtrade certified coffee producers in the region.
Michael Toliman, from PNG’s Coffee Industry Corporation, shared his experience as a Fairtrade spokesperson in Australia and New Zealand during Fair Trade Fortnight 2012, the annual awareness raising event held in both countries in May. “PNG coffee farmers have been struggling for many years,” Toliman says, ”Now Fairtrade brings everyone together across the world, we are one big happy Fairtrade family”.
Mohammed Habib, former Executive Manager of Labasa Cane Producers Association from Fiji, and Isaac Micah, Operations Manager from Huiwani Cooperative Society from PNG, reported on their participation at the General Assembly of the Fairtrade Network of Asian and Pacific Producers held in Chennai, India, earlier this year. On his election as the first NAPP board member from the Pacific, Habib reported, “We are securing the Pacific voice within the Fairtrade system. Now we can talk about the Pacific struggle and be heard”. This election represents a very important step for the empowerment of Pacific producers in the international Fairtrade system.
At the close of the meeting, producer participants made a commitment to work together to build a strong Fairtrade Pacific Sub-Network. Fairtrade ANZ will facilitate this collaboration, ensuring that the Pacific voice is represented in Fairtrade International’s General Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the Fairtrade system and the main channel for influencing and shaping Fairtrade’s future strategies for development.