The winter is coming to an end in NW Bangladesh, and we are able to purchase and dry bamboo in the open sun for the next 2 months. The photo shows a total of 80 bamboos arriving by 3-wheeler at our rural pre-processing centre. We employ local people in this remote village giving them much needed jobs and skills.
Today we are holding our Workers Welfare Association elections. A team of 5 members of our production team will be elected to represent the production workers interests. Our management team will meet with the elected members once each month, acting on their ideas and listening to any concerns they might have. This is a key part of our commitment to Fair Trade
Its rice planting season in NW Bangladesh. Our production unit is located in a remote industrial zone in Nilphamari District, Bangladesh, and is surrounded by rice fields. Most local people in this area eat rice for 3 meals each day. Early in the morning the farmers are out in the fields, bending and planting the rice plants each one by hand. Ground water is pumped out to irrigate – the combination of green plants and water makes for beautiful scenery.
We held the first of 15 training sessions on Mental Health in partnership with the LAMB Project a local NGO serving the most vulnerable communities in North West Bangladesh, with integrated health care. The session led by two of LAMB’s professional training staff covered the subject of Self Care and Self Esteem. The feedback from our staff of 100 was overwhelmingly positive, and we are looking forward to future sessions.
Health and Safety in the workplace is of high importance to our team. We were privileged to have our local Fire Service training team on site for two days, leading us through in-depth Fire Safety training. Subjects included the causes of fire, fire prevention, maintenance and use of portable fire extinguishers, and basic treatment of injuries. The enthusiasm of our local fire brigade was infectious, and the team thoroughly enjoyed the training sessions, and our workplace is safer as a result of this. There continues to be very little evidence of Covid in our community here.
We are now entering our Bamboo harvesting season. We love our local Bamboo (or Baash) as the locals call it. We are affectionately known locally as “Baash company” or the Bamboo company. We do of course use a range of natural materials, but local Bamboo is one of our favourites. The variety we use is known Bambusa nutans, and it is available in abundance in small homesteads across North West Bangladesh. Over the years we have developed our expertise in sourcing from known local small farmers, and in doing so helped to provide additional family income for them
The impact of Covid 19 on our rural community in North West Bangladesh seems very limited at the current time. We are of course not medical experts, take nothing for granted, and have implemented best practice procedures in our workplace, but it does seem as though there is a natural resilience to this horrible pandemic in our community.
Fair Trade breaks the chain of poverty. Fair traders around the world, together with small producers and backed by consumers, are breaking the chains of poverty.
Fair Trade is growing and that is our proof that we are gaining our fight against extreme poverty. The WFTO membership count doubled from 155 Fair Trade organisations in 2005 to 355 in 2014. In the same period, the turnovers of these members quadrupled from 136 million euros to 448 million euros.
To ensure their way out of poverty, producer-beneficiaries of WFTO members receive fair prices for their products, long-term income security, capacity-building and life-skills trainings, no discrimination, no slavery, and good working condition.
“It is unacceptable that there are still over 1 billion people living in extreme poverty and deep deprivation. That is why at WFTO we fight poverty together with the small producers through sustainable solutions. The 10 Fair Trade Principles are our weapon. It is important that the eradication of poverty is done together with those affected. And with the support of consumers and businesses Fair Trade can go even further in its contribution to poverty eradication.” – Rudi Dalvai, WFTO President
WFTO believes that poverty can be effectively eradicated by empowering small producers, giving them fair and sustainable means of livelihoods.
“Before joining Oasis, I went through very hard times. Now I have a job with a stable income and I am able to send my children to school. Every month I am saving some amount at the bank. After being with Oasis, there is greater financial freedom and security and I am able to discuss finances with my husband.” – Shomita (not her real name), producer of Oasis Coffins
Shomita Rani, is a producer at Oasis Transformation Limited (OTL) which manufactures and supplies Oasis Coffins. OTL is a Fair Trade company located in the north-west of Bangladesh and employs local people to create beautiful hand-crafted coffins and ash-urns from sustainable raw materials – bamboo, seagrass and willow. Photo: Oasis Transformation Limited).
WFTO requires its members to comply with the 10 Fair Trade Principles through the WFTO Guarantee System, which regularly verifies organisational practices of trading organisations to ensure Fair Trade is being respected.
Products that are Guaranteed Fair Trade can be recognised by the WFTO Product Label. Products carrying the WFTO Label are made and traded by Guaranteed Fair Trade Organisations dedicated to the sustainable Fair Trade economy. Every purchase of products with the WFTO Label supports small producers and their communities.
Notes to Editors:
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global network of organisations from over 75 countries across Africa and Middle East, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Pacific Rim, representing the entire Fair Trade supply chain. Membership of WFTO provides Fair Trade organisations with credibility and identity by way of an international guarantee system; a place of learning where members connect with like-minded people from around the world; tools and training to increase market access; and a common voice that speaks out loudly about Fair Trade. WFTO is the home of fair traders: producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers that demonstrate 100% commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 Principles of Fair Trade of WFTO in their daily operations. The works and achievements of its members make WFTO a global authority on Fair Trade and a guardian of Fair Trade values and principles.
The coming years will witness a whole variety of products carrying the WFTO Product Label, from handicrafts, to fashion, to food products.
Behind the Product Label is a revolutionary Fair Trade system – the WFTO Guarantee System. Consistent with the goal of Fair Trade, which is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through trading within agreed set of principles, WFTO’s route to equity in trade is ensuring that organisations follow the WFTO’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade.
The WFTO Guarantee System is based on time-tested best practices of Producer Group Internal Control System (ICS), Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) and WFTO membership system experience. To learn more of the WFTO Guarantee System, visit our website www.WFTO.com.
For high resolution images, interviews and other queries, please contact WFTO
Michael Sarcauga, Communications Coordinator
E: Michael@wfto.com T: +31345535914.
At Oasis coffins we are committed to impacting communities beyond the walls of our production unit! In order to achieve this, alongside paying fair wages and giving excellent working conditions, we offer training in life-skills, leadership development and values. On 12th and 13th and February, we had our annual Oasis Coffins conference in Bangladesh with our entire team involved. We looked together at values such as “courage” and “commitment”. Our production team delivered a series of short but powerful dramas illustrating how working at Oasis Coffins had made a difference in their lives. These showed how employment had resulted in better diet, a stable family life, and being able to afford schooling for their children.
We are pleased to announce a new agreement with our partner NGO Supoth. Over the next 12 months they will be training our production team in financial management skills and adult education training. We are committed to improving the economic well-being of our staff, a key component of Fair Trade.
Pictured above are Allen from Supoth, with our Managing Director David How