I first meet the wonderful people of the Cha's Organics company at a trade show a couple of years ago. Their enthusiasm, integrity and products really impressed me. I have always been interested in supporting small, grassroots companies (very much like my own) that are making a real difference in their communities. Cha's Organics has all the characteristics of a business that ‘adds’ to the global community of organic food producers.
I am frequently asked about the labels ‘Fair-Trade’ and ‘Organic’ and whether they really mean anything in a world that is full of pollution and corruption. I asked Marise May of Cha's Organics to explain what it means when we purchase a product that is labelled ‘Fair-Trade’ and whether or not it really makes a difference in the bigger picture.
Last time I was in Sri Lanka visiting our producers, I was struck by the integrity and vision of the small organic farmer's project, the beauty of the land which is so carefully tended to and respected by the farmers, and the sense of peace I felt on the farms.
Often people question whether the terms Fair-Trade and Organic really mean anything, or whether they're just being asked to pay more for the same products, whether the producers really benefit from Fair Trade, and so on.
While I was visiting the farmers, I thought of all the people back home and wished that they could share in this magical experience. If only they knew how different the lives of these farmers were then that of the virtually enslaved plantation workers that produce conventional tea and other agricultural products in Sri Lanka. If only they could see how happily these farmer families were living, at one with the land that had been tended to by their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Fair-Trade offers real advantages to the producers who grow Cha's Organic's spices and coconuts, by guaranteeing not only minimum prices but also Fair-Trade premiums paid directly to the growers. Instead of going into debt to purchase agricultural tools, seedlings, fertilizers and other chemical inputs before even planting a crop, the growers of Cha's Organic spices and coconuts receive the seedlings, tools and even animals and bees that they require up front - all purchased with the money they receive from the Fair-Trade premiums.
They also benefit from ongoing training on traditional and biodynamic organic farming methods that allow them to grow all of their crops in their biodiverse gardens without the use of any harmful and expensive chemical inputs. What's more, the Fair-Trade premiums are also used to purchase school supplies for children in the farming community, build community centres, provide local drinking water supply, and equip women with the tools and training they need to become more financially secure.
These days, many agricultural producers around the world are faced with growing pressure to trade in their traditional, sustainable farming methods for destructive, polluting and extremely expensive ones proposed by big business in the face of globalization. This pressure has caused many of them to become increasingly indebted as they are forced to pay more and more for chemical inputs and even the engineered seeds that they have been pressured to grow. Faced with growing debt and no hope in sight, producers in the hundred of thousands have resorted to committing suicide, often by drinking the very chemicals whose use they were coerced into adopting. See the BBC UK Report on this issue.
It's becoming increasingly evident that modern-day agriculture, with its deadly chemical agents, originally designed as bioweapons to be used for war, it's terminator biotech seed technology and it's complete disregard for the wellbeing of the very people it depends on to grow crops and consumer end products, is nothing short of war culture. Our global food security is under very real threat from this state of affairs, and with stakes this high, this is a war we can no longer choose to ignore.
In a world where so many of the very people that provide nourishment for our families cannot even provide for the basic needs of their own, it is of growing importance that we act in solidarity with farmers across the world to build a brighter future, while protecting our global food supply. Choosing Fair-Trade products is a concrete way to help achieve these goals.
As support for Fair-Trade initiatives grows, so does the hope and inspiration for other producers to join the movement with new and innovative products. By choosing Fair-Trade, we can truly create a better world where everyone is fed, children are free to play and learn, and the despair felt by so many farmers today becomes only a distant memory.
Please visit us at https://chasorganics.com to find out more about us, and what you can do to support Fair-Trade.
Follow Cha's Organic on Twitter @ChasOrganics
Follow Cha's Organic on Facebook: @ChasOrganics