Fairtrade Fortnight: How your morning cuppa is empowering families in Belize
Every year, Fairtrade Fortnight is a time that celebrates the people who grow our food. We’d like to shed a light on the projects that Tate & Lyle Sugars have funded with your support, that have changed the lives of many in Belize.
Adelaida Che, pictured above is from a sugar-cane farmers' community in Belize and has taken part in the Female Empowerment Program.
As you add a spoonful of sugar into your cup of tea every morning, do you ever wonder what it took to make that sugar? It can be hard to imagine all of the processes and people involved to turn sugarcane into same-sized minuscule crystals of sugar.
At Tate & Lyle, we source our raw cane sugar worldwide, from over 40 countries, from small scale farmers to larger operations.
Sugar cane is one of the most important sources of national income for many countries in subtropical and tropical areas. In Belize, which is one of the countries that we source from, raw cane sugar represents 19% of exports, the largest proportion for the country. Sugar cane is grown by many small-scale farmers and can be can be a difficult crop to make a profitable living from.
The work on a sugar cane plantation is an arduous one and is mainly done by the men.
Through Fairtrade we are proud to have made a positive contribution to small-scale cane farmers in developing countries like Belize since 2008. The road to get to this point has been long and many challenges remain, but together, through our commitment to Fairtrade, and through your everyday choice in buying our Fairtrade cane sugar, we can continue to improve the quality of life for whole communities.
Every bag of Fairtrade sugar you buy helps towards generating what is called a Fairtrade Premium. What it means is that regardless of the price they receive for their sugar cane, farmers receive the additional Fairtrade Premium of $60 per tonne of sugar.
The Fairtrade Premium we pay is used to improve the running of the of the producer organisations such as Belize Cane Sugar Farmers, Corozal Sugar Cane Producers, and Progressive Sugar Cane Producers. This is used to help farmers improve their tools, provide education around good agricultural practices, and help them develop the necessary business skills and technical capacity.
Beyond the agricultural practices, Fairtrade certification has enabled the local communities to get access to funding to provide essential services such as maintenance of schools and medical care, and other projects which benefit their communities.
Gilberto Polanco and his wife are smallholder cane sugar producers in the Belize area.
Case Study: On the road towards women empowerment
The role of women in any country is a complex one. Women are expected to be present on all fronts, from household responsibilities like cooking to caring for the children as well as managing and contributing to family income. Within vulnerable communities, in particular, women’s roles can be undervalued and their potential can be left untapped.
Adalaida Che was part of a new initiative that aims to reduce these gender biases and promote women's empowerment, launched by The Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association.
Cane farming is quite strongly gendered. A recent study showed that 71% of women consider themselves to play a meaningful role in their cane farms, although few get out into the fields. Their contribution lies in administrative work (53%), followed by supervising operations (35%). The program aimed to support these women and increase their skills as part of several interlocking projects addressing income and wellbeing (farm productivity, diversification and gender).
The Female Empowerment Program is a project aimed to impact the lives of women and their families in 4 vulnerable communities in Belize. The program trains these women in skills such as capacity building, financial literacy empowerment, economic opportunities, and hands-on training.
The women pictured above, including Adelaida Che, second from right, took part in the Female Empowerment Program pilot project amongst 60 other women from vulnerable communities.
The pilot project where 60 women, including Adelaida Che, were enrolled to participate during 4 months, was the first stepping stone to bring to life the initiative. During this time, they learnt financial skills and financial literacy for sugar cane revenues, as well as small business entrepreneurship and ways to diversify their income.
The impact of such training is a long term one. Through these newly acquired aptitudes, these women have the potential to pursue new business opportunities and improve their farms, thus helping them to improve the family farming business.
On a day to day basis, these new opportunities help women to have more control over the family income and pay for the food they put on the table and their children’s clothing themselves. These are small steps towards a life filled with a little more confidence, more decision making and more recognition for the wives, sisters and daughters of sugar-crop farmers.
Fairtrade Fortnight runs from the 25th of February to the 11th of March. Join us to support the farmers and workers who grow our sugar when making your morning cuppa or by creating some delicious recipes with Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Sugar and other Fairtrade ingredients. By re-creating these recipes or making your own bakes with our Fairtrade products, you will contribute to enabling our farmers to receive more Fairtrade Premiums and help improve their lives and the environment they live in.