With our support, small-scale farmers at the Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC) became the world’s first supplier of Fairtrade raisins.
EAC is in the Orange River area near the Kalahari Desert and has 65 farmers in its co-op. The grape farmers are scattered across 21 islands where infrastructure is poor, some don’t have electricity or piped water.
Our relationship with the farmers, which began in 1995, is much more than the typical buyer-grower connection. For a start we helped to develop the farmers’ association into EAC and worked with them to gain Fairtrade certification. We also provide an ongoing support program for the farmers, training them in cash flow, planning and budgeting to strengthen their co-operative.
Thanks to you EAC has also been able to afford to buy fertilisers and machinery, improve irrigation and invest in training and support.
Because the raisins are sold under Fairtrade terms, this means that EAC receives an extra social premium which they spend on improving the local community.
The co-operative recently decided to use the Fairtrade premium to buy schoolbags for local children.
The children were carrying their schoolbooks in old carrier bags and, in the rainy season, their books got soggy so they couldn’t do their homework! Now with their bright, new schoolbags they don’t have any excuses!
Their head teacher described the day they received their bags as a blessing and the gifts as manna from heaven!
Grape vines are great for farmers who work small uneconomic pieces of land. Each vine takes about three years to produce its first crop. The grapes are then dried in the sun for about ten days to become raisins. But the farmers have to keep an eye on them, because it’s important to maintain at least 14% of their water content so that they are nice and juicy – just how we like them for our GEOBARS.