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Co-op wine pays Fairtrade Dividend 14.06.07

Co-op Fairtrade Cape Wines

The Co-op, the largest Fairtrade retailer in the UK, handed over its second Social Premium payment of £90,404 to the Du Toitskloof wine co-operative in South Africa.

Fairtrade is more than just a fair price paid to producers, as well as pre-payment of part of the price it also includes an annual social premium- this premium is controlled by the producer co-operative and is spent on ways to enhance the entire producer community whether that be by buying scales for coffee growers to stop them being underpaid by buyers or introducing basic pension schemes for retired workers. The Social Premium is a crucial part of the whole Fairtrade approach as it assists in future economic development and building sustainable communities.

The Co-op started working with the Du Toitskloof co-operative in the Western Cape of South Africa in the early 2006, the Co-op sourced five own-label wines. The wines are all produced from grapes grown by the 22 farms belonging to the co-operative. As part of what is one of the largest Fairtade deals in the world uniquely the Co-op has agreed to match fund the Social Premium thus doubling its value.

In the first year the Social Premium yielded a cheque of just over £64,000. This money was used to creat three day care centres for the children and toddlers of the Du Toitskloof co-operative members. "Previously, the co-operative’s 210 toddlers and infants were looked after by elderly women during the day, whilst their parents worked on the vineyards. The new day care facilities have full-time, fully-trained staff, and provide much-needed pre-education facilities for the children." said Vicky Steel, Category Marketing Manager for wine at The Co-operative Group.

This year’s cheque of £90,404 will be used to fund the further development of Fairhills community centre, the Women’s Club and Youth Club, the Craft Centre and to buy a community bus.

The Fairhills Community Centre was part of the plans for the social premium from the outset last year. The centre has created a “hub” for the community, and has provided the growers and their families with facilities for a youth club, a women’s club, education and training, sports and keep-fit and a computer club. The centre is also used for wine tastings for clients from abroad.

The Women’s club allows women to meet socially, and discuss their problems and needs, and creates an environment where the women can be educated about issues such as alcohol abuse. The first meeting was held recently with a breakfast gathering at the Fairhills Community Centre. The centre was packed with close to 150 women from the farms of the co-operative, as well as the wives of the producers. As well as organising fun activities, the leaders of the youth club teach the teenagers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and issues such as safe sex.

The Craft Centre Crew At the very beginning of the Fairtrade project, one of the main objectives was to create more employment opportunities for the women of the co-operative. The Craft Centre is based in an old wine warehouse, and employs 14 young women. The women were previously unemployed, or worked in restaurants or on the farms. They have undergone extensive training in craft making and business, so that they can turn the centre into a profitable operation. The centre will produce crafts such a beaded jewellery and other products, and handmade candles and soap. One of the objectives is to craft as much as possible out of recyclable materials.

Due to the growing transport problems of the community,community decided to purchase a 32-seat diesel Tata bus. Since it has been in use, it has addressed the needs of the youth club for trips out, local sports clubs, the transport of children to and from the day care facilities, and the transport of the elderly people of the co-operative to the local town.

The Co-op has been a leading force in developing Fairtade in the UK, it now stocks a wide range of own brand Fairtrade products as well as branded premium Fairtrade products. Fairtrade annual sales are predicted by IGD to double to £400 million by 2010.

As Raymond Kimaro of the Kilimanjaro Native Co-operative Union commented at G8 events in Edinburgh back in 2005 said, “Pay us a fair price for our coffee, and we will make poverty history for ourselves.”

Peter Shield

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Co-op Online

Fairtrade Foundation

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