An iconic photo of a Maasai in traditional shuka, carrying a spear and talking on his cell phone perfectly personifies the fusion of European, American and African cultures.
Jeffrey Gogo’s latest piece in The Herald outlines how the Plan for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) “aims to ‘catalogue, protect and promote’ cultivated indigenous crops as well as wild plants and fruits” in Zimbababwe.
The National Strategy and Action Plan for Plant Genetic Resources For Food and Agriculture is based on protection of farmers’ rights…“This (national strategic and action plan) will create an enabling legal and institutional environment that promotes research and capacity development for conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in Zimbabwe,” Mudzindiko told The Herald Business.
Through Zimbabwe’s National Strategy and Action Plan on Plant Genetic Resources, however, corporate monopoly might find it difficult to steamroll smallholder farmers’ seed rights.
That’s because the plan considers farmer seed independence as crucial to avoiding food losses that are linked to climate change.
By breeding their own seed, farmers are able to create varieties that are suitable for their specific regions and climates, helping them cope better with the increasing shifts, say scientists.
“Climate change is one of the reasons why as a nation we are now seeking to promote these traditional/ indigenous varieties,” Mudzindiko opined.
Today’s photo is from photographer Biljana Jurukovski’s Tribal Muse series. Jurukovski’s photographs hone in on the beauty of the women of the Surma tribe — more specifically the Suri. If you are interested in this photographer and her work My Modern Met has a great interview with her.
They say the best way to learn is to teach. It couldn’t be more true. Writing a blog post is the process of condensing a lot of information into an easily digestible form. As a result, I’m learning right along with my readers. Here’s something I didn’t know:
Cooperatives are not a marginal phenomenon:
- More than 12% of humanity is part of any of the 3 million cooperatives in the world!
- The Top 300 cooperatives and mutuals report a total turnover of 2,1 trillion USD, according to the World Co-operative Monitor (2017).
- Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable economic growth and stable, quality employment, employing 280 million people across the globe, in other words, 10% of the world’s employed population.
You might also be interested to know the Italian researcher Sara Vicari and filmmaker Andrea Mancori, have set a goal of visiting and documenting, in a series of short films, some of the most striking and inspiring cooperatives from different economic sectors in five continents. They started the aroundtheworld.coop project in January. You can get more detailed information about the project on their blog,
All the videos will be made available on ICA’s youtube channel
From the large amount of material coming into my feed daily, it appears more and more grassroots organizations are springing up around the country dedicated to building a robust cooperative sector. United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is just such an organization.
The USFWC was founded in 2004 when a core of worker co-op members came together with co-op developers, scholars, community organizers, and supporters from the broader co-op sector to strengthen worker co-ops through a national, sector-specific organization. Building on growing momentum, this founding event brought together worker co-op practitioners from the existing Western Worker Co-op Conference and the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, as well as key players in Midwest and Southern states, to galvanize and support rising interest in the worker co-op business model.
This is a great organization if you want to learn more about cooperatives or are interested in starting a coop. They have many resources available including a Co-op movement study guide.
Wholesum Farms came up in my news feed again today. I was thrilled to read they are expanding their fair trade offerings. A portion of the proceeds from these products, as well as others in their Fair Trade line will be funneled into Wholesum’s community development fund. This is a great example of how an agricultural firm can take the needs of their workers into account when setting corporate policy.
In a recent news release, Ricardo Crisantes, chief commercial officer, touted the company’s Fair Trade program.
“What makes this (Fair Trade) certification so remarkable is the fact that 100% of community development funds generated from the sale of Fair Trade produce go back to our workers and helps them tackle needs such as healthcare, housing and education,” Ricardo Crisantes, Wholesum’s chief commercial officer, said in the release. “The workers vote on how these funds are allocated, and that in itself is very empowering.”
Wholesum produce can be found at Whole Foods Market and Jewel Grocers in the Midwest. They may not be carried under the Wholesum label, but be sure to look for the Fair Trade Guarantee!
Our current industrial farm culture not only degrades the environment, the soil and the water, but subjects workers to an array of hazards such as respiratory infections, sprains, bruises, severe head trauma, fractures, electrocution and repetitive motion injury.
Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA emphasizes the need for Fair Trade Certification in the agricultural sector internationally – even in a “developed” country like the US…
A 2014 Los Angeles Times investigation found Mexican farm workers living in squalor, denied wages, and trapped in debt on farms that export produce to the U.S., highlighting the need for standardization and enforcement of labor standards. Unfortunately, U.S. farms could not provide a much better example of decent work in practice. In the U.S., just as in other parts of the world, workers face abysmally low wages, unsafe and toxic working conditions, child labor, indentured servitude, and human trafficking. They are also regularly unable to gain access to medical care and education.
He acknowledges that while the US has stronger labor laws than many other countries, they still don’t meet Fair Trade Certified standards…
- Federal laws permit a 13-year-old to work in the heat of a strawberry field in the U.S. but do not permit that same child to work in an air-conditioned office. Fair Trade’s Agricultural Production Standard prohibits workers under 18 years old working on the farm.
- California, Minnesota, and Washington are the only states with formal heat stress protections written into law, according to the Safety+Health Magazine. Fair Trade’s Agricultural Production Standard requires rest and meal breaks by default, plus extra protections in high-temperature areas, like cool water and shaded break areas.
- According to Public Serving Broadcasting (PBS), the majority of farm workers in the U.S. are excluded from freedoms and protections afforded to other workers in the National Labor Relations Act from 1935 and the Fair Labor Standards Act from 1938.
Agricultural workers deserve the same fair income, secure workplaces and social protections provided to other industrial workers under state and federal laws.
Adhering to Fair Trade standards comes with added benefit to farm workers in the form of Fair Trade Committees and Community Development Funds. It’s simple: for every Fair Trade Certified product sold, the farmers who grew it earn an additional amount of money called Community Development Funds. From there, a democratically-elected group of farm workers, called the Fair Trade Committee, assembles to decide how to spend these dollars to meet their unique social, economic, and environmental needs.
In 2016, Wholesum Harvest, a family-owned tomato farm in Nogales, Arizona, made headlines when it announced its status as the very first Fair Trade Certified™ farm in the United States.
Within a year of becoming Fair Trade Certified, workers at Wholesum Harvest made their very first project investing in health insurance for the farmworkers. Even with employer-provided insurance available to all the workers, many still could not afford it, so workers voted to use their funds to offset the employee cost. In January 2018, Wholesum Harvest went from less than 5 percent to now 88 percent of its workers opting in to the employee-provided health insurance. (Compare that to just 35 percent of farm workers in the U.S. who report having health insurance.)
Thoughts, images, and stories by Biswajit Dihidar.
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