Full and Fair Trade
The development of a unified set of international Fair Trade standards that genuinely reflect what happens on the ground and truly benefit primary producers in developing countries is a work in progress.
Currently we are associated with three fair trade models:
General fair trade principles
Whilst different fair-trade-type certification bodies offer different standards with differing emphases, they all cover the following principles based on fairness, mutual respect and transparency:
- Employment is chosen freely
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
- Enforced child labour shall not be used (remembering that in India and in Africa farms are family enterprises, and children have their duties in support of their family)
- Living wages are paid
- Working hours are not excessive and are reasonable
- No discrimination is practised;
- Regular employment is provided
- No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
- There should be sustainable trading relationships, based on trust, transparency, equity, accountability and continuity. These should be long term, based on mutual advantage, which includes price stability
- There should be a social and cultural emphasis within and external to the business that benefits the wider community
- The whole chain of product supply is covered, from farmer to retailer
Kokonut Pacific’s Fair Dinkum Fair Trade
Kokonut Pacific developed “Fair Dinkum Fair Trade” when no other suitable set of standards existed in response to a need to express what was happening on the ground. As a result, Kokonut Pacific was proactive in implementing the Fair Trade principles with its DME® technology since its inception in 1994. For this we developed our own logo to reflect our passion for justice and fair trade.
We have used the phrase “Fair Dinkum” because it is an Australian expression meaning “the real thing” or “absolutely genuine.” The vision for the potential economic transformation of remote island communities is summarised in these two flow diagrams which contrast “a current island scenario” based on copra exports with the potential “sustainable development scenario” achievable by the production of high quality virgin coconut oil (VCO).
Fair trade includes:
- A fair price for the goods produced (that is, a price significantly better than the average world-price).
- Long-term contracts which provide real security.
- Supporting producers by helping them gain the knowledge and skills they need to develop their businesses and operate successfully in the global economy.
Our vision of “empowering” local communities is being implemented by:
- Introducing a process (DME®) which results in more than a 5-fold increase in the value of coconut exports compared to copra.
- Making much more effective use of an existing sustainable resource with ‘zero-waste’ potential. (see a DME® Pictorial Flow Chart [368Kb pdf])
- Dramatically increasing rural employment in a gender-neutral manner (local employment of men, women and youth, minimising urban drift)
- Helping set up complete systems (such as training, extension services, oil purchase and quality control) [link to DME®value-adding chain] to ensure full support for otherwise isolated producers
- Purchasing all the DME® extra virgin coconut oil (DME®-VCO) offered for export and finding markets for this oil
- Arranging for (and in some cases, funding) the Organic Certification of Producers and Packers by an internationally accredited agency, NASAA
- Providing technical support by regular email communication and skype
- Actively promoting the enormous health benefits of virgin coconut oil domestically and internationally — by advertising, and by attending organic trade shows
- Promoting the downstream use of virgin coconut oil in skin care products, local soap making and as a sustainable diesel biofuel.
We consider all of these to be good indicators of our commitment to Full and Fair Trade.
Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA)
Our actual practice of ‘Fair Dinkum, Fair Trade’ received third party endorsement and certification from FairTSA in May 2014.
The Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance is the fair trade standard holder for organic certifiers: an open system where every ISO 65 accredited certifier can become a collaborating partner.
Linking fair trade with organic certification had always been our dream. Indeed, having fair trade as a totally separate certification process was extremely costly and time consuming for producers and as such was itself actually ‘unfair’.
It has taken many years for the Alliance to be formed and we are delighted that NASAA is a ‘collaborating partner’ with FairTSA.
NASAA Social justice general principals
Social justice and social rights are an integral part of organic agriculture and processing.
We are Certified Organic by Australia’s leading certifier, National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).
This means our entire operation — from the palm tree to final packaging — is inspected annually by an independent third party body which reviews our processes and assesses our social justice practice. We have passed with flying colours since we started inspections back in 2005!
The following is taken from the NASAA Organic Standard (see Section 8, Page 74).
Operators should comply with all International Labor Organisation (ILO) conventions relating to labour welfare and the UN Charter of Rights for Children. All employees and their families should have access to potable water, food, housing, education, transportation and health services. Operators should provide for the basic social security needs of the employees, including benefits such as maternity, sickness and retirement benefit. All employees should have equal opportunity and adequate wages when performing the same level of work regardless of colour, creed or gender. Workers should have adequate protection from noise, dust, light and exposure to chemicals that should be within acceptable limits in all production and processing operations. Operators should respect the rights of indigenous peoples, and should not use or exploit land whose inhabitants or farmers have been or are being impoverished, dispossessed, colonised, expelled, exiled or killed, or which is currently in dispute regarding legal or customary local rights to its use or ownership. Contracts should be fair, open to negotiation, and honoured in good faith.
- Where national laws fail to address social justice then operators shall have a verbal or written policy on social justice. Operators who hire fewer than ten (10) persons for labour and those who operate under a state system that enforces social laws may not be required to have such a policy.
- In cases where production is based on violation of basic human rights and clear cases of social injustice, that product cannot be declared as organic. The certification applicant shall not engage in or support the use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse.
- Operators may not use forced or involuntary labour.
- Employees and contractors of organic operations have the freedom to associate, the right to organise and the right to bargain collectively.
- Operators shall provide their employees and contractors equal opportunity and treatment, and shall not act in a discriminatory way.
Operators shall not hire child labour. Children are allowed to experience work on their family’s farm and/or a neighbouring farm provided that
- Such work is not dangerous or hazardous to their health and safety
- It does not jeopardize the children’s educational, moral, social, and physical development
- Children are supervised by adults or have authorisation from a legal guardian
More about NASAA Social Justice Policy
Fair treatment for workers
The way it all works for Kokonut Pacific is that the village communities of the Solomon Islands are extended families in the traditional style. Melanesian culture respects individual rights along with social responsibilities to care for family and for the land. Time for food gardening, fishing, child care, community and church plus a culture of sharing resources means that abusive worker/employer relations such as exist in some other countries are not seen. If someone is not happy with what they are doing they will simply quit and go back to their subsistence activities. DME extra virgin coconut oil production units provide cash incomes for women and youth in remote villages where no other income-earning opportunities exist. The work is safe, pleasant and accompanied by chatter and laughter. The workers are typically members of an extended family and a proportion of their income is generously shared amongst the community for the common good, as is customary.
The only formal employer with more than ten full-time employees is Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands Ltd which operates in the capital city under modern work practices. A savings scheme has been established by KPSI staff to help individuals achieve their goals. There is easy open communication within the team.
Individual DME producers might well employ more than ten different people during a week but that is the beauty of the process — individuals might choose to work for 1, 2 or three days/week depending on their other household family needs, their commitments to the community, and their farming and fishing activities. In addition, each producer is buying coconuts from surrounding farmers who have relatively small coconut groves and engage casual family labour as the need arises. So many people are benefitting from these small business enterprises.
Coconut Technology Centre
In 2014 we celebrated ten years of developing the Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands DME VCO value chain! This year we established the Niulife Foundation, a registered charity that can receive funds from the public and direct them to projects improving the lives of coconut producers. As an outworking of its Social Enterprise charter, Kokonut Pacific will direct 30% of its profits to the activities of the Foundation. The Foundation’s initial project will be the establishment of the Coconut Technology Centre just outside of Honiara.