Congratulations to the winners of the Fairtrade Awards 2016!
From Asia-Pacific, Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA), Sri Lanka was one of the winners of the Small Producer Organization of the Year; United Nilgiri Tea Estates Company Limited (UNTEA), India was one of the recipients of the Premium Committee of the Year award; and Bijumon Kurian, President of Manarcadu Social Services Society, India got felicitated for being the Biggest Fairtrade Fan.
Also, congratulations to COCAFCAL, Honduras; Sukambizi Association Trust, Malawi; Fundación de Trabajadores de Comercio Justo de Urabá (FUNTRAJUSTO), Colombia; Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Ethiopia; and Zaytoun CIC, UK.
The International Fairtrade Awards were celebrated in Berlin on 3 March 2016. For the second time, Fairtrade honoured outstanding farmers, workers, traders and supporters who are driving change in their communities. Read more about the winners here.
Small Producer Organization of the Year
This award acknowledges small-scale farmers who have excelled in production, sustained markets and met consumer demands to enhance their communities’ livelihoods. The 2016 winners from the Fairtrade Asia Pacific region included:
The Small Organic Farmers’ Association (SOFA) is a certified organic farmer organization for high quality tea in Sri Lanka. SOFA is made up of 2108 farmer families who are supported by the association to work in a democratic and transparent manner. SOFA pays special attention to the sustainability of the environment, implementing programmes on soil conservation, soil fertility, carbon emissions reduction, watersheds protection, and reforestation. The Fairtrade Premium is reinvested in various income generating activities: tea plants, seeds and various crops are distributed among the farmers to promote biodiversity; cows and goats are given for commercial milk production (with the cow dung used as an organic fertilizer); and agricultural equipment is procured to encourage efficient and systematic farming. Social welfare programmes funded by the Premium include educational assistance and pre-schools for the farmers’ children, drinking water projects, community centre construction, and projects to help women become self-employed.
Premium Committee of the Year
This category honours Fairtrade Premium Committees that have taken innovative decisions on the use of premium money and fostered their communities’ development. The winner from the Fairtrade Asia Pacific region included:
United Nilgiri Tea Estates Company Limited was one of the first organizations in India to be Fairtrade certified. It operates four tea estates in the picturesque Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu in the south of the country, producing high quality teas at altitudes of over 2000 metres. The Nilgiri Premium Committee has a twin emphasis on education and health. In education, the Premium has helped to fund the building of eight classrooms and one audio visual room with 900 students now benefiting from 25 new computers; while two school buses and hostels help those children who live further away to attend classes. In its other core area, a community health centre has already received around 12,000 patients and has given all workers, their spouses and children the option of immunization against Hepatitis B. Crèches and an orphanage have been opened and at the other end of the life scale, there is now a pension scheme.
Biggest Fairtrade Fan
This category acknowledges special achievements from outstanding Fairtrade supporters worldwide, who work tirelessly towards attaining the Fairtrade vision. In this category, the judges had shortlisted 10 candidates and the final winner was chosen by the public through an online voting. The winner is:
Bijumon Kurian, President of Manarcadu Social Services Society, India
Bijumon Kurian continuously pushes farmers and workers across Asia to enhance their knowledge about Fairtrade Standards. As president of Manarcadu Social Services Society in the Indian state of Kerala, Bijumon has worked tirelessly to empower women and motivate young people for farming, and enhance the knowledge transfer among the 1600 small-scale farmers supported by the cooperative. He has also initiated training and knowledge exchange programmes for tea garden workers. In his role as board member of the Fairtrade Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP), Bijumon has focussed on enhancing the visibility of Asian producers in global markets by organizing their participation in a number of trade fairs and business trips. He has been representing small producers as their delegate in the NAPP general assembly for the past three years, making sure their voice is heard in regional decision-making. Read more about Bijumon.