Holiday Letter from the Ecuador Fair Trade Association
We received this letter a couple of weeks ago from the Ecuador Fair Trade Association a few weeks ago, and the staff at Fair Trade USA was really touched by it. As much as we research and report back on the positive impact of Fair Trade, nothing means more to us than first-hand testimonials like this. The Ecuador Fair Trade Association is a group of seven Fair Trade Certified flower producers from Ecuador, accounting for 122 hectares in production and around 1.500 workers. The farms formed this association with the purpose of offering a wider range of products, large volumes, and centralized customer service to the global market.
Back in 2002, when our first farms obtained the Fair Trade certification, nurseries and child care centers in the farms had limited resources. Now, all of our roses that are sold with the Fair Trade logo earn an extra 10% of the selling price. This extra money is paid to the workers to invest in social projects related to education, health, small businesses, loans and many other initiatives to improve their lives. Little by little, our workers on our farms have made investments in improving the nurseries. They now look much cozier and provide a better environment for children to grow and learn. The Fair Trade Premium has also supported education by providing school materials and uniforms to workers and their children. Generally, this type of support is given as a reward for good grades and regular school attendance. Our farms also support many local schools by providing furniture, school materials and building facilities. We strive to give children the best possible learning environment to ensure their educational success. In some cases these schools rely on the Fair Trade premium for basic equipment like windows and desks. This has made the scope of influence of Fair Trade in our farms much broader than only the workers and their families. By the beginning of 2008, our workers received health benefits, but they didn't have easy access to hospitals and doctors. Sometimes workers had to travel several hours to reach the hospital. Nowadays every farm has a doctors' office, and specialists visit the farms on specific dates to undertake several types of preventive medicine. The Fair Trade Premium has also helped provide loans to workers for home improvements and for starting new businesses. Interest rates are very low, and payment conditions are favorable to the worker's situation. We are happy to share these accomplishments with our friends all over the world who support Fair Trade and buy our roses. These are top quality roses, harvested with faith in this fair system. Merry Christmas!! Ecuador Fair Trade Association