Sugar farmers risk FairTrade decertification

Former chairman of the BSCFA and current director Alfredo Ortega was also called on to respond to the matter of a request of over $4 million in monies offered by Fairtrade to farmers for projects related to their work in the fields which they want to tide them over until the season starts. But Ortega was one of the four directors who voted against it on Thursday during a directors’ meeting. He explained why.

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vlcsnap-2015-01-10-07h59m35s197Alfredo Ortega – Chairman of the Orange Walk BSCFA

“A vote was taken and the majority voted in favour that that money be dispersed.  It will be used.  It will be dispersed to the farmers.  Four of us didn’t sign the paper, but the majority rules.  We have eighteen directors.  Fourteen of  them have signed the paper, and it will go through.”

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But the cheques have not been disbursed as the Association continues to wrangle internally.

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Alfredo Ortega

“Yesterday there are many farmers agitating that they want that we disburse to them. Nevertheless we are explaining to them that it will create problems for them. Personally I didn’t sign the paper because I am not in agreement for that to happen because it really hurts the association, but at the further end it will hurt the farmers,  because this is leading to a decertification,  and a decertification from FairTrade is not only that we will not be receiving any more premiums, the situation is that the movement of the market, the movement of the consumers out there, they are looking forward to products that are produced with less use of agrochemicals, and that child labor is not involved, and that protection to the labor force is being done.

 So many things are there that need to be in compliance.  Those are things that we needed the farmers to understand, and we are trying to see how best they can understand the implication of all of this. But nevertheless there is a potential political intervention to farmers who agitate, that the four million dollars be disperse to them.”
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