fatima ismael SOPPEXCCA visitPosted: June 22, 2015
Next Monday and Tuesday (June 29/30) Fatima Ismael, head of coffee co-operative SOPPEXCCA, will visit Cardiff as part of a UK tour. She will be meeting representatives of Fairtrade Wales, the Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, grassroots fairtrade campaigners, as well as visiting the National Assembly and a fairtrade shop.
In February members of Wales NSC visited SOPPEXCCA, which provides the coffee for the campaign’s own brand, tecafé. They spoke to Fatima on the trip. She explained the benefit women receive from the coffee and its unique unpaid labour premium, and stressed why fairtrade is more important then ever.
How does the premium for unpaid labour in the tecafé price benefit women?
The premium for unpaid labour has enabled us to invest in processes, build capacity and raise awareness amongst the women involved in the co-operative. We have also supported a co-operative of women workers who do not have land, so the only option for them is to work in the dry mill where the coffee processing takes place. (Since they don’t have land to grow produce) the only option for them is to sell their labour force. This co-operative of women workers runs a shop that stocks basic provisions which are sold to members at cheaper prices. It also runs a savings plan for the women. UCA SOPPEXCA , with the premium for unpaid labour, supports and strengthens the co-operative and its activities.
Why do you think it is important to recognise the unpaid work of women? Why do you think consumers should pay an additional premium over and above the price of (Fairtrade) coffee?
Well, the premium that is charged on tecafé-branded coffee helps to compensate for the unpaid labour of women and the concept of this premium is something that should be more widely promoted and applied. We are re-vindicating women’s rights. For centuries we have been marginalised and our work dehumanised in the coffee industry and other rural industries, whether we have been involved in the production processes or other daily operations. So, in a way, paying a premium for the unpaid labour humanises the work of those women who are involved in the entire coffee production chain, whether they be a producer, or a producer’s wife, partner or daughter or any other worker.
Have you got a mesage for Fairtrade supporters in Wales?
The message from UCA SOPPEXCA, and indeed from Nicaragua, is that we really need to promote, grow and multiply the number of Fair Trade consumers because our producers are once again in a deep crisis caused by the effects of climate change. Climatic changes have affected our co-operative’s growth. I wish to get across to all our supporters in the UK that we need them now more than ever before. Fair Trade has made a real difference to our organisation and it has had such a positive impact – we have grown and improved; but we need your continued solidarity and for more people to be aware of and support the Fair Trade concept so that we can continue to support the groups of small-scale producers.