Fair Trade Mangoes: Delivering Flavor and Impact
This guest blog post was written by Gesner Cledo Nozil (Nozil), a part-time field staff member for Fair Trade USA who works with mango producer groups in Haiti. Nozil has a long history working with mango producer groups in Haiti, especially in developing systems and processes to help them earn organic and Fair Trade Certification. As a field staff member, he works to ensure that trainings are completed, Community Development Funds are correctly spent and that the Fair Trade Committee has plenty of support. Nozil is originally from Jacmel, Marigot, Haiti, a small town that is a coastal community west of Port-au-Prince.
The mango tree is one of the most beautiful trees in Haiti. More than a hundred varieties of mangoes are grown throughout the country. Thanks to Fair Trade, one such variety, the “Madame Francique” or Haitian Francique mango, now represents a better future for more than 1,500 Haitian mango growers and their families.
The Fair Trade Mango, Unpeeled
Fair Trade Certified mangos arrived in the US market in 2012. Since that time, these mangos have come to symbolize a wealth for the country, and this knowledge motivates mango growers to continue working towards their own development.
Fair Trade mango growers in Haiti are scattered across ten different municipalities (communes) throughout the central and northern regions of the country. Under the Fair Trade system, these growers are divided into ninety different groups. Each of these groups has its own representative committees including:
- A Trade Committee, which is responsible for coordinating the harvesting and selling the mangos to exporters.
- Fair Trade Committee, a democratically elected body that is responsible for managing the Community Development Fund, extra income earned for every Fair Trade Certified mango sold. This Fund is used to address critical community needs, like education and healthcare.
A recent needs assessment of each group revealed that mango growers throughout Haiti face similar challenges. Many lack basic health care and clean drinking water. Illiteracy and food insecurity are also common. Poor infrastructure and road conditions can also make it difficult for growers to transport their products to exporters.
Fair Trade in Action
Fair Trade allows mango growers to address these and other issues. Some tangible improvements that the mango growers enjoy include:
- The creation of an associative and mutual aid structure
- A better price (up to 60 percent more) than they would for a non-Fair Trade Certified sale.
- Training sessions to help mango growers maximize harvest yields and quality
- Motivation to plant more trees to increase their yield, which helps offset the significant deforestation that exists throughout Haiti
- The opportunity to send their children to school with support from the Community Development Fund.
- Additional community development projects through the Community Development Fund, including installation of water wells, scholarships, construction of roads and public staircases, a peanut seed program to diversify crops, and more.
The Fair Trade program in Haiti should be encouraged as it significantly benefits mango growers. We’ve made a great deal of progress, but further action is needed to strengthen and support the sustainability of the program in the long run.
Actions to be taken to ensure the sustainability of the program include:
- Creating interactive trainings that increase retention. This is especially important considering the high levels of illiteracy among mango growers.
- Strengthening the capacity of all the committee members to better ensure the future of the program.
- Increasing harvest quantities by providing tools and trainings that facilitate harvests and support effective transport of mangos.
These changes will not happen overnight, but we have faith in the program and where we’re heading. Every penny that mango growers earn through the Fair Trade program counts for them, their families and the development of many communities throughout Haiti.
Fair Trade Certified mangoes from these dedicated Haitian small farmers are packed and exported by Ralph Perry Exports in Port-au-Prince, and sold under the Tropic Trade LLC label in the US. You can find these impactful and flavorful mangos at your local Whole Foods now!