Fairtrade ANZ and NASAA Organic explain how they’re assisting coffee farmers to increase product demand, protect their plants, and maintain ideal living standards.
According to Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), the latest strategy in Papua New Guinea coffee farming is to acquire multiple certifications to open up access to more markets, and provide economies of scale around training and auditing costs.
In response to this, in early 2020, Fairtrade ANZ and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) launched a partnership to support increased access to dual Fairtrade and organic certification in the Pacific region. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) supported this program through its Market Development Facility (MDF).
While the advantages of dual certification were clear, there was a recognition that meeting the Standards for both certifications was a difficult task for producers, particularly in terms of paperwork and processes.
“Agricultural exporters and smallholder farmers in Papua New Guinea face challenges in meeting international standards relating to quality and sustainable production,” says Fairtrade ANZ Climate and Environment Advisor Sam Platt.
“They are also faced with high costs of acquiring these international standard certifications. With a single certification, they have access to only a limited group of international markets and buyers.”
Fairtrade ANZ and NASAA’s organic subsidiary business — NASAA Certified Organic (NCO) — are globally recognised bodies that provide certification for agricultural commodities in line with international standards for export and trade. They ensure that best practices in farming and production are met, and that smallholder farmers get a fair price for their produce.
Carolin Möller from NASAA Organic, says the organisation also plays a critically important role in supporting and promoting the adoption of agricultural practices that lead to safer and more sustainable food production systems. She says the association has helped certify farmers in Papua New Guinea for more than 40 years.
“In the last few decades, we’ve identified that there is a need for both Fairtrade and organic certifications at the same time. Often consumers expect to receive the quality of an organic product, its environmental protection, and social justice for the farmers themselves,” says Carolin.
“We realised Fairtrade and NASAA Organic were seeking similar requirements, so merging us together would streamline the communication process for producer organisations.”
Fairtrade ANZ’s Sam says that dual certification of Fairtrade and NASAA Organic is an important market tool for producer organisations across the wider Pacific. It also provides higher returns for farmers through the combination of the Fairtrade Minimum Price, Fairtrade Premium, and the Fairtrade Organic Differential.
“The Fairtrade Minimum Price is the minimum price that must be paid by buyers to producers for a product that is certified against the Fairtrade Standards. The Minimum Price is a floor price which covers producers’ average costs of production and allows them access to their product’s markets. The Minimum Price is currently US$1.40 (about AU$2.09) per pound of coffee and has just increased to US$1.80 (about AU$2.68) which will come into effect in August,” Sam says.
Sam adds that the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money (currently US$0.20 per pound, about AU$0.30) which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions.
“The additional benefit of partnering with NASAA Organic is offering the Fairtrade Organic Differential, which is the price paid on top of the conventional Fairtrade Minimum Price or the market price, whichever is highest when purchasing Fairtrade organic coffee. The organic differential is currently US$0.30 (about AU$0.45) per pound, which goes directly to the farmers as extra income, and is a financial benefit for doing both Fairtrade and organic farming,” he says.
“We want to incentivise organic farming because it’s better for the planet and improves the soil quality.”
He adds that the partnership between Fairtrade and NCO will also build capacity of exporters and producer groups to manage multiple certification requirements, and thus benefit from voluntary sustainability standards.
“The dual certification is expected to reduce compliance costs, increase price premiums, and improve market access for exporters and small producer groups. The certification program is expected to benefit smallholder producers of coffee and cocoa across Papua New Guinea,” Sam says.
Through the partnership, MDF facilitates Fairtrade ANZ and NCO to engage with industry stakeholders and research the constraints exporters and producer groups face in earning certification.
“While dual certification of Fairtrade and organic presents the opportunity to increase the benefits received by small- scale producers, it also presents challenges like increased administration burden and financial investment, and can result in non-compliances and decertification,” says NASAA’s Carolin.
The two organisations have developed an innovative training program that meets exporter and producer needs. The training program will work with commodity exporters and smallholder producers to improve the ability of their extension teams to manage a single Fairtrade Organic certification, combining two existing certifications — Fairtrade ANZ and NCO.
“The ‘Increasing Access to Fairtrade and Organic Dual Certification in Papua New Guinea project’, funded by MDF, has developed a package to support producer organisations to better manage and access dual certification. It provides support for producer organisations to apply for, achieve, and maintain organic certification, training materials and a streamlined template to meet Fairtrade and organic standards requirements. The project also includes workshops with producer organisation representatives, exporters, and other industry representatives,” says Sam.
“This program will ensure Papua New Guinea producers are able to meet buyer’s quality requirements and respond to global demand trends.”
The project was intended to run from January to December 2021 but was ultimately postponed due to COVID-19. The most recent workshop was held in October and November 2022.
“The workshop was unbelievably well received. We had an overwhelming number of participants in the classes, so we have reduced the amount in each class to allow one-on-one training, which is a much more efficient method,” says Carolin.
“Our future approach is to mitigate the risk of workforce shortages and create a network of people that are skilled and knowledgeable enough to guide cooperatives to achieve certification.”
Carolin says NASAA Organic continues to be at the forefront of organic industry development. She says it was the first organic industry association in Australia, the first to develop an Organic Standard, and is a forerunner in establishing strong international trading ties for organic exports.
“Since the beginning, NASAA Organic has been farmer oriented. Ultimately, producers are taking care of our food and land and without them we would have nothing. It’s our moral obligation to help them stay connected,” Carolin says.
NASAA Organic is still collaborating with Papua New Guinea-based Paradais Review Services to develop in-country competency for certification and inspection purposes against a wide range of voluntary sustainability schemes and food safety guidelines.
“Our mission is to increase the uptake and demand for sustainable organic agriculture and products through innovative and ethical provision of education, market development, advocacy, policy, standards, and certification services,” says Carolin.
Fairtrade ANZ has continued its work in Papua New Guinea by supporting the Alang Doam, Neknasi and Unen Choit cooperatives and is looking to secure funding to build on this partnership with NASAA Organic moving forwards.
“Supporting farmers and helping them achieve a greater standard of living while also protecting the environment is fundamental to Fairtrade’s and NASAA Organic’s purpose and values as organisations,” says Sam.
“We have some great partner licensees and roasters on the other side of the supply chain in Australia and New Zealand that are also committed to both Fairtrade and organic certification. To see that same dedication across the supply chain is really special.”
This article appears in the June 2023 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.