There is no climate justice without social & economic justice
‘ Fairtrade is both the bridge and the vehicle that helps to transform the wellbeing of the families of small-scale producers. There cannot be climate justice without justice in the market for our products. ‘ Fatima Ismael, Co-operative Union SOPPEXCCA
What is SOPPEXCCA and what are its goals?
SOPPEXCCA is located in the department of Jinotega in northern Nicaragua and is made up of 650 producer members organised into 16 co-operatives.
It is based on an organisational model of inclusion of families to achieve equality, social justice and the fair distribution of resources. Environmental and social education programmes promote human development through empowering producers and their communities.
Key areas of work are sustainable organic production, environmental protection, and technical, training and credit programmes. Two cross cutting areas of work are gender equality and the involvement of young people in all aspects of life at all levels of the organisation.
Members of SOPPEXCCA grow Fair trade organic shade coffee for export and fruit and vegetables for their own consumption and to sell locally.
What is the impact of the climate crisis on Nicaragua and small scale producers?
Nicaragua as a country and SOPPEXCCA as an organisation face a constant struggle against the impact of the climate crisis: droughts, floods, and hurricanes and the unpredictability of weather patterns.
The producers and their families are the ones at the forefront of risks to their lives and livelihoods in combating the crisis especially as their main crops are coffee and basic grains and vegetables for the survival of their families.
In November 2020 two unprecedented major hurricanes struck Nicaragua. For SOPPEXCCA producers this brought landslides and destruction and damage to crops. Fallen trees caused extensive damage to organic coffee grown under the canopy of the forest.
Small scale farmers and their families are the ones facing the risks to their lives and livelihoods on a daily basis, a consequence of the climate crisis.
What are the inter-related consequences of the climate crisis for SOPPEXCCA producers, their communities and the wider society?
There are deep direct and indirect consequences that affect social and economic well-being including the following:
- reduced income, unemployment, migration, food insecurity, increase in poverty
- lower productivity, and an increase in costs
- deforestation, loss of biodiversity, increase in pollution
- psychological impact of heightened levels of insecurity and uncertainty
What measures are SOPPEXCCA producers taking to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis?
These includes extensive reafforestation, especially important after the hurricanes; establishing areas of agro-forestry with hardwoods for timber, fruit and banana palms; diversification of production to include cacao, honey and basic grains to improve food security and increase the income of families; setting up an organic composting plant; and implementing processes for drying coffee in the sun to avoid using non-renewable energy.
As temperatures rise coffee will no longer be viable on lower slopes so producers have planted cacao.
All these measures are reinforced with constant education and awareness raising among producers, communities, and in primary and secondary schools.
What measures has SOPPEXCCA taken to implement gender equality?
Promoting gender equality is at the heart of SOPPEXCCA’s work.
SOPPEXCCA was the first co-operative in Nicaragua to design and implement a gender policy which has facilitated other co-operatives to follow their experience.
In terms of leadership this has meant 32% of those in leadership positions are women.
SOPPEXCCA has worked intensively to ensure that women have access to land, credit and markets and all SOPPEXCCA programmes have at their heart the involvement of women and young people.
Markets include Fairtrade coffee for export and setting up local market spaces where women can sell fruit, vegetables, chocolate and other products.
These initiatives contribute to empowering women in terms of their life circumstances, their family unit, their co-operatives, their communities and SOPPEXCCA as a whole.
Some examples of areas of work include raising the self-esteem, visibility and confidence of women in production; reducing the excess workload through campaigns aimed at participation of all family members in household tasks; and the permanent struggle to eliminate all types of violence and inequality.
Agroecological systems essential for mitigation and adaptation to climate change and conserving biodiversity and ecological balance, are being adopted by small producers and in particular by women.
Another area of generally neglected work that SOPPEXCCA is beginning to address is social protection for older rural women.
What is SOPPEXCCA’s message to Fairtrade and climate activists in the UK?
‘Fairtrade helps us to achieve our goals: diversification of production, promotion of gender equality including land and credit for our members especially women, production of high quality shade grown coffee, environmental protection; and fully incorporating young people into all our work.’
‘Don’t abandon the fight for social justice and climate justice for our people! Climate justice is also social justice, equality, being able to say we are human beings. ‘
‘ In all our efforts we aim to create a healthy and sustainable environment and show that in the hands of men and women small-scale producers lie family economies, livelihoods and possibilities for real human development for all on equal terms.’
‘Join the Fairtrade cause; it is both the bridge and the vehicle that will transform the wellbeing of the families of small-scale producers. There cannot be climate justice without justice in the market for our products. ‘
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