The push for a unified set of international "Fair Trade" standards that would genuinely reflect what happens on the ground and truly benefit primary producers in developing countries is not over yet. Criteria or protocols have been set up for a wide range of commodities (eg Coffee, tea, cocoa, vanilla, certain handicraft products etc) to confirm their Fair Trade status in export markets. At the present time, no protocols have been established by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) for Fairtrade with coconuts.
We are currently associated with three fair trade models
- Kokonut Pacific's Fair Dinkum Fair Trade
- The general Fair Trade Principals
- NASAA Social Justice policy
Kokonut Pacific's Fair Dinkum Fair Trade
Kokonut Pacific developed the "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 has been proactive in implementing the FT principles with its DME technology for more than ten years. For this reason, we have developed our own logo to reflect our passion for justice and FT.
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 the two flow diagrams contrasting "a current island scenario" based on copra exports and the potential "sustainable development scenario" achievable by the production of high quality virgin coconut oil (VCO).
- A fair price for their goods (that is significantly better than the average world price).
- Long term contracts which provide real security.
- Support in gaining knowledge and skills needed to develop their businesses and operate successfully in the global economy.
This vision of "empowering" local communities is being implemented by:
- Introducing a process (DME) which results in a 4 to 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 Overview 368Kbpdf)
- 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) to ensure full support for otherwise isolated producers.
- Purchasing all the DME Virgin Coconut oil (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 OC Agency (NASAA).
- Providing technical support by regular email communication.
- Actively promoting the enormous health benefits of virgin coconut oil domestically and internationally (by advertising and attending Organic Fairs).
- Promoting the downstream use of virgin coconut oil in 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.
The General Fair Trade Principals
Whilst different ‘fair-trade’ type certification bodies offer different standards with differing emphasis, 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
- Enforce 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 practiced;
- 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
- That the whole chain of product supply is covered, from farmer to retailer
NASAA Social justice general principals
We are Certified Organic by the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA). This means annual inspections by an independent third party reviewing our processes and includes assessment of our Social Justice practices. We have passed with flying colours since we started inspections in 2005!
Social justice and social rights are an integral part of organic agriculture and processing.
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. At a minimum, and where relevant, such a policy should include
- 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
- Employers shall provide all employees with potable drinking water, latrines or toilets, a clean place to eat, adequate protective equipment and access to adequate medical care.
- All employers shall ensure that workers have received safety training.
Kokonut Pacific recognised for Fair Trade work
The European Commission carried out a study in its 2002 Work Program to investigate Responsible Entrepreneurship (RE) for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). “Responsible Entrepreneurship means how to run a business in a way that enhances its positive contribution to society whilst minimising negative impacts on people and the environment. Responsible Entrepreneurship is, therefore, a way of adding value to both the business and society.” RE denotes voluntary business strategies to achieve the EU’s definition of sustainable development and is fully in line with the notion of corporate social responsibility, which the EU has defined as
"a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis".
Kokonut Pacific has worked within this definition and framework since its inception by being involved in socially responsible activities without being familiar with the CSR concept per se.
This was recognised by the Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) when it presented the 2006 Ryutaro Hasimoto Gold Award (First Prize) to Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands for the work it was doing in ‘Rehabilitating a rural economy with virgin coconut oil production’.
Kokonut Pacific is a foundation member of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ) which is closely linked with the international FT organisation FLO. FTAANZ is currently working with European groups to establish suitable criteria for coconuts.