October was Fair Trade Month and we are excited to announce that JusTea has just become a member of Fair Trade Federation (FTF). FTF is a community of organizations, committed to 9 cornerstone fair-trade principles: Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers, Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships, Build Capacity, Promote Fair Trade, Pay Promptly and Fairly, Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions, Ensure the Rights of Children, Cultivate Environmental Stewardship, and Respect Cultural Identity (http://www.fairtradefederation.org/fair-trade-federation-principles/).
Isn’t it amazing how in just 5 years, small-scale Kenyan farmers and a passion for good, healthy tea, can create this story of JusTea? It’s exciting to join the family of similar companies in the Fair Trade Federation. It’s been a long process – balancing the competing demands of the tea trade and the social economic needs of Kenya. FTF has helped us approach these demands with a practical eye. They have asked us hard questions and pushed us to identify the areas where we need to improve our credible information on the source of each ingredient in the teas.
Hard questions…slow changes. It is more convenient for JusTea to take the easy way. The easy way is to use our leverage – more money, bigger markets – to think we are wiser. To falsely assume that we can “push” the changes on to our Kenyan farmers. But we are learning not to overlook the importance of community. That rich African tradition of communities lending a helping hand, to bring each other up, and to help each other stay up.
You and I are “wealthier than we think”, No, not in monetized values, but when we stand as tea drinkers with these small tea farmers. We together have the courage to seek justice. To choose wisely in our tea purchases, and to pay tea farmers fair wages, and to watch as they work changes in their community.