Fairtrade Fortnight 27 Feb – 12 March: find out what difference Fairtrade makes for Nicaraguan producers
The 650 member co-operative union SOPPEXCCA is an example of how the climate crisis is threatening the lives and livelihoods of small scale producers. But it is also highlights what difference Fairtrade can make in terms of extra income, power and support for families and their communities.
As SOPPEXCCA general manager points out ‘ 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. ‘
What is SOPPEXCCA?
SOPPEXCCA is a union of co-operatives based on an organisational model of inclusion of families and communities to achieve equality, social justice and fair distribution of resources. 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 Fairtrade 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, unpredictable weather patterns and more frequent hurricanes.
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, cacao and basic grains and vegetables for the survival of their families.
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?
Growing climate resilient organic crops is essential to increasing food security and income for families.
These includes extensive reafforestation, especially important after hurricanes; establishing areas of agro-forestry with a mixture of 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.
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. This means ensuring that women have access to land, credit and markets and all the co-operative’s 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.
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.
These initiatives contribute to empowering women in terms of their own lives, and that of their families, co-operatives, 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 organic coffee, environmental protection; and fully incorporating young people into all our work.’
‘ 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. ‘
Fairtrade Fortnight 27 February – 12 March 2023: more people choosing Fairtrade means extra income, power and support for families and communities!
This Fairtrade Fortnight, spread a simple message: making the small switch to Fairtrade supports producers in protecting the future of some of our most-loved food and the planet.
The climate crisis is making crops like these harder and harder to grow. Combined with deeply unfair trade, communities growing these crops are being pushed to the brink.
But here’s the good news as highlighted in the SOPPEXCCA example: more people choosing Fairtrade means extra income, power and support for those communities.
Erika Rodas, SOPPEXCCA producer, to visit Bristol and London in May
Since 2012, the Bristol Link with Nicaragua (BLINC) together with local Fairtrade organisations, has coordinated annual visits for women producers from SOPPEXCCA.
Over a two week period, to coincide with World Fairtrade Day on 13 May, SOPPEXCCA producer Erika Rodas, will be doing presentations in primary schools in Bristol, South Glos and Bath. This initiative is a partnership between BLINC, Bristol Fairtrade and Bath University. The visit has been made possible by generous support from the University of Bristol’s Widening Participation Fund.
NSC will be organising a programme for Erika in London for a few days en route to Bristol.
Watch out for further information of events where Erika will be speaking.