Fair Trade

CabbagesFor fair trade to make a real and lasting difference for its intended beneficiaries (small-farmers and farm-workers), it has to provide more than just money. It has also to allow meaningful engagement by beneficiaries in all aspects of fair trade’s decision-making and governance.

Yet the reality is that they are the least represented stakeholders in the system.

EMG's work in this field aims to:

  • ensure fair trade's environmental standards are appropriate and encourage sustainable forms of agricultural production
  • strengthen the voice of small-farmers and farm-workers in the fair trade system
  • ensure that the fair trade system in practice remains true to its stated principles

 You might get a more tangible sense of the context we work in through one of EMG's "Untold Stories". In this case, we try to capture some of the struggles of a fictional farm-worker, Kobus February and the Place of Thorns

Click on this link to see the bumper 8 page June issue of the ever popular AFIT News. 

The objective of the project is to raise awareness of rights amongst farm workers in the Western Cape, build the confidence of farm workers to exercise these rights and provide information and networks with local organisations to support them to do so. 
The project focusses on the use of theatre as a medium to raise awareness and the medium of Forum theatre where theatre is used in a smaller workshop environment to reinforce broader learning around basic rights and build workers communication, conflict resolution and negotiations skills.
The use of theatre as a form of delivering popular education around issues of farm worker rights, provides participants with information about their rights whilst also illustrating how to act on their rights. Theatre provides a safe place to convey both the context workers are currently in and new and different ways of being in society. It affirms more healthy personal, social and industrial relations.  
The reach of the project  is increased through the use of radio  where  the voice of workers on specific issues is raised and linked to interviews with experts on farm worker issues. 
The project is funded by the Embassy of France in South Africa's Civil Society Development fund. 
The play Saamstaan and initial project was originally funded by the Foundation for Human Rights.

There is jubilation this month as farm workers with the Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT) consider the potential benefits of the amended terms of use for the fair-trade premiums, where 20 percent can now be taken in cash or kind. 

Bennet Malungane from Mabunda Farm writes in February’s AFIT newsletter that this is the culmination of a suggestion raised at the Ethiopia meeting last year. 

Farm workers can now learn more about how they fit into the farming system, how the economy works, and the role of trade in the economy, through direct access to a free online training manual.


The manual was developed for the Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT) by the Cape Town-based civil society organisation, the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), as part of their ongoing work to offer training and skills development for small scale farmers and farm workers.

The latest Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT) newsletter, April 2015, is now available for download here


Our newsletter covers stories about events we have helds and advice ofr Small Scale Farmers and Farm Workers on Fairtrade Farms.



afit logo front right newThe growth of fair trade in South Africa over the last few years has been exponential. There are currently over 40 agricultural entities who produce fruit, wine, tea and other goods for the international fair trade market. The small-scale farmers and farm-workers producing these goods are the direct beneficiaries of the system.

But there is more to fair trade than just money, and in practice, small-farmers and farm-workers are weakly represented in fair trade's governance structures. In 2005 a small group of South African fair trade beneficiaries decided to establish the Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT), an exclusive network to represent their interests.

AFIT provides a platform for members to share knowledge, develop skills and unify their voice as they engage with and improve the fair trade system. AFIT is owned and directed by its members -- small-farmer and farm-worker organisations. Members use AFIT to build their capacity and to lobby for their needs. EMG currently acts as the network's Secretariat.

afit 3 in a rowRural farm-workers are amogst the most marginalised sectors in our society. Fair trade accredited producers are obliged to allow free assosciation and trade-union membership. We have been able to use our leverage with fair trade farms to run education and training for farm workers. In the longer term, fair trade farms should act as examples of good practice and hep expose the unsustainability of poor labour practices in the rest of the sector.




afit launch 2005Training and capacity-building is a key focus of EMG's work in supporting fair trade beneficiaries. We run regular training events in conjunction with local FLO fieldworkers and trade-unions. The highlight of the year , and an annual 3-day Spring School






The fair trade movement began in the late 1950’s in response to the desire of socially-concious Northern consumers to support the development of Southern farmers and workers. These consumers understood that conventional global trade was driving unequal trading relationship and exploitative working conditions. By the 90s, the various fair and ethial trade initiatives had largely been consolidated under the Fairtrade International (FLO) which developed tools to assess and monitor the production and marketing chain and to ensure that producers were paid a "fair price" for their produce and that benefits went directly to the producers.

EMG has been involved in the governance of fair trade in South Africa and the region since the first South African producers were accredited. EMG staff member Mandy Moussouris is an active member of the board of Fair Trade South Africa and sits on the FLO Workers Rights Advisory Committee. Noel Oettle serves on the FLO International Board and the board of Fair Trade Africa.

EMG's work in this field has been possible through the generous financial support of the Ford Foundation, Comic Relief (UK) and the Foundation for Human Rights.

Fair Trade - Resources

Farm worker training manual (1.2MB) This manual was developed as part of our ongoing work to offer training and skills development for small scale farmers and farm workers. This training manual covers issues of the how the economy works, the role of trade in the economy... and will help farm workers get a better understanding of how that fit into the wider agricultural economy. Ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar

A Practical Guide to Fair Trade Premium Projects for Small Farmers and Joint Bodies is a joint publication (together with Fair Trade South Africa and the City of Cape Town). It is aimed at FLO certified small-farmers and farm-worker Joint Bodies, and explores the processes and rules around managing and spending FLO premium funds. It is written in a simple, eary-to-read style and gives a large number of real life examples.

Ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar!

A beginners guide to alternative trade and fair trade in South Africa (104KB PDF) is a combined English/Afrikaans version. The booklet provides an overview of the basic issues relating to fair trade in South Africa.

The Association for Fairness in Trade (AFIT) produces a regular Newsletter