The Fair Trade Ghana Network (FTGN) which has been in existence for close to eight years, last week held its third Annual General Meeting in Accra.
Fair Trade Ghana Network was established originally as Fairtrade Ghana Network in July 2013 with support from Fairtrade Africa, to collaborate better with Fairtrade certified producer organisations in Ghana, and encourage others to join the Fair trade movement and get certification.
However, Fair Trade Ghana Network was revamped in November 2016, through the Equity Project, after a dormancy period of about two years caused by lack of funding. Currently, FTGN is represented in all the regions of Ghana with the exception of Upper West and Volta Regions and have 35 producer groups trading in cocoa, cashew, shea nuts and handicraft production.
Acting President of FTGN, Florence Blankson told Producer and Hired Labour Organisations, partners and stakeholders that the debilitating global effect of the COVID-19 was such that virtually everything came to a standstill and thus were only able to hold virtual meetings which came with its own hiccups like the intermittent dropping of internet, disrupting the smooth flow of meetings.
Mrs Blankson was happy to announce that their activities have so far attracted new members from 28 to 31 and counting. She used the opportunity to impress on members to pay their dues since FTGN cannot rely on grants and donors forever.
She noted that hitherto, the Network had been heavily dependent on donor grants and membership dues and observed that one of the major challenges confronting FTGN, is members’ response to dues payment and scarce external funding.
Additionally, challenges include a Fairtrade study in 2017 in Cote d’ivoire (CDI) which showed that only 12% of cocoa households, earn a living income, and yet Ghana and CDI control 65% of the world market for cocoa. Also, in 2017, Citrus groups within FTGN produced over 3,500 metric tonnes, and sold only 5% because of lack of market. These groups are currently burdened with huge debts through no fault of theirs.
Climate change has had significant negative impact on the lives of members and continues to do so, the acting President added. She however stated with that support from Fairtrade Africa (FTA), the Network is developing a detailed advocacy strategy to help tackle the problems faced by producers.
FTGN’s main partners over the years include Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders (AVSF) who are the managers of the Equity Project which continues to support the Network.
Fair Trade is a global movement which addresses the injustices of conventional trade by supporting smallholder farmers and workers, to secure better terms of trade.