Fairtrade raisins from Afghanistan now available


Fairtrade raisins from Afghanistan will be available in the UK from November 2010 onwards as part of the Fairtrade Foundation’s ongoing work to help producers in conflict affected areas gain access to global markets

The raisins carry the FAIRTRADE Mark and have been produced by Tropical Wholefoods in partnership with international non-governmental organisation Mercy Corps and the Parwan Raisin Producer Co-operative (PRPC), who are based in the Shomali Plain in Parwan province, just outside Kabul. PRPC consists of five groups of around 300 farmers who own on average five jeribs of land with 2.13 jeribs of this being vineyard. A jerib is equivalent to just under half a hectare. To read more about the PRPC see the article in Fair Comment here.

Haji Aenudin, 54, lives with an extended family of 18 including his son’s family. He says selling his raisins in the UK and to other international markets will not only mean that he will be able to get a better price for his raisins but also that he will be able to send his children to school. ‘By selling directly to exporters and not going via a trader, we will get more money for our raisins,’ he explains. ‘My great hope is that peace will return to Afghanistan and for a good life for my children, and their children.’

Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International has been working with producers from conflict areas as part of its strategy to spread and deepen the impacts of Fairtrade globally. Chris Davis, the Fairtrade Foundation’s Director of Producer Partnerships said: ‘This new product is great news for Fairtrade and the Afghani farmers. Areas of conflict – even sporadic – suffer extreme poverty and there are many opportunities for Fairtrade to make an impact in supporting communities in these areas.’

Adam Brett from Tropical Wholefoods first began working with the raisins in 2006. He said: ‘The past three decades of fighting during the Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban regime have virtually decimated the plain. Grape farmers experienced ever decreasing yields, and due to the troubles, access to improved technology and to markets was impossible. Fairtrade will help them to them a sustainable living by creating export opportunities.’

Because of security in the region, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) auditors have not been able to carry out the physical inspections. However, a process of assessment by NGOs and local consultants to provide desk research information on compliance with Fairtrade standards has been implemented.

Because of this unusual situation, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) has made an exception to allow the Fairtrade Foundation to license UK based traders to sell products from these producers using the FAIRTRADE Mark. This exceptional approach means that the producer is not considered fully certified, which will be made clear on the raisin packs.

Source: Fairtrade Foundation