Marula: Fair Trade in Action
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a world-recognised philosophy and practice of trading between industrial and developing countries. Organisations that meet the strict requirements under Fair Trade exist around the world. In both North America and Europe consumers are increasingly demanding Fairly Traded, or socially responsible, products. Marula Natural Products Pty Ltd operates under Fair Trade principles that meet seven key Fair Trade requirements.
Fair Trade evolves from a recognition that the terms of trade between industrialised and developing countries have historically created an inherent inequality and disadvantage for developing countries. By operating on Fair Trade principles, increasing numbers of developing country suppliers and private sector buyers are trying to address this imbalance.
Fair Trade has gained consumer acceptance over the years. In a survey done in the UK, awareness of the Fairtrade Mark has increased to 20% (1 in 5) in 2001, which is up from 11% in 1999. 68% of the sample agreed they would "pay more for fair trade products." In the EU, Fair Trade is growing at 5% per year with an estimated value of ECU of 200 million per year. (For more information, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk or www.eftafairtrade.org)
Marula Natural Products is committed to the international principles of Fair Trade. Fair Trade has been defined by FINE, an informal network of four main global FT umbrella bodies. This definition was agreed by the network April 1999 and is now widely accepted:
"Fair trade is an alternative approach to conventional international trade. It is a trading partnership which aims at sustainable development for excluded and disadvantaged producers. It seeks to do this by providing better trading conditions, by awareness-raising and by campaigning."
What does this mean to Marula Natural Products Pty Ltd?
Marula Natural Products balances the profit motivation of a private company with that of endorsing the practices of Fair Trade. Marula Natural Products has defined seven key Fair Trade practices: Fair Pricing, Equitable Consultation and Negotiation, Ownership, Transparency, Equal Opportunities, Concern for Environment and Respect for Cultural Assets.
Marula Natural Products pays a fair price for the Marula fruit and kernels. Marula products contribute up to 100% of a households cash income and we ensure a continuous income stream by purchasing kernels outside the fruit season. Suppliers to Marula Natural Products, rural women, work under a system of payment for their inputs. Cash payments are negotiated directly to the women though elected Marula Committees. Marula Natural Products will continue to avoid unfair trading structures and pricing.
Equitable consultation and negotiation
Prices are negotiated transparently through workshops in the rural communities and with concern for the social and economic interests of otherwise marginalized suppliers.
The suppliers and communities at large hold ownership in Marula Products through a Marula Farmers Trust. The Trust will invest its profits for the wider community in projects such as medical clinics. The Marula Farmers Trust is facilitated by the Mineworkers Development Agency.
Marula Natural Products is open and transparent with all stakeholders. Suppliers are involved in decision making and a full time Community Liasion Officer is dedicated to ensuring information flows.
Marula Natural Products ensures equality of opportunity in employment and supplier relationships.
Concern for Environment
Marula Natural Products works in partnership with MDA and a Department of Water Affairs and Forestry community forestry project to ensure the sustainable harvesting and management of Marula resources. The Marula fruit from the trees in the communities remain an organically grown wild berry.
Sustainable harvesting and management practices include development of the resource base, education of local farmers, and overseeing local harvesting techniques.
Respect for Cultural Assets
Marula Natural Products acknowledges traditional knowledge, supports traditional sustainable harvesting techniques and respects the cultural traditions that surround the Marula. Our trading activities further and help preserve our suppliers relationship to this important resource.
For example, marula oil from the kernels was used since ancient times in Africa by women to soften their skins. These women recognised that marula oil has excellent stability and hydration as active ingredients, which made it worth their time to go through the difficult process of cracking the nuts. Today, Marula Natural Products and partner companies recognise this traditional knowledge and are learning more about the active ingredients and using them to benefit a new generation of women. Out of respect for this cultural resource, Marula Natural Products pays a premium for the kernels.