by Martin Van Den Borre
The worker-owners of La Siembra Co-operative were at the heart of the Fair Trade program during the World Social Forum, which was held in Montreal on August 9-14. The World Social Forum is an annual event that brings together thousands of activists of the social justice and economic justice communities from dozens of countries to build a more humane and sustainable global community. In Montreal, thousands of people from civil society, non-profit organizations, and social movements advanced strategies to prevent the militarization of societies, advance indigenous rights, promote public over private goods, expand universal education, housing and healthcare, reduce the influence of transnational corporations, reverse the politics of free trade and extractivism, advance fair trade and equitable economics, and improve refugee welfare.
La Siembra was at the heart of the Fair Trade Agenda. As the only Canadian fair trade organization (FTO) on the French program, we and our farmer partners of Co-operative Norandino led the workshop on the cocoa industry in an event organized by the French network Artisans du Monde. Another panel on fair trade organized by Équiterre, the Québec-based non-profit, also featured La Siembra and Norandino leaders. We were also active at the citizens debate on fair trade and the fair trade convergence meeting with all FTOs and fair trade networks on the last day of the event.
Immediately after the World Social Forum, managers of the Peruvian Co-op Norandino were hosted by La Siembra on tours of manufacturing plants in the Montreal area to help them design their new whole brown sugar packaging line. Camino whole brown sugar (muscovado) is produced by the farmers of Norandino, and the growing support of consumers in Canada, France and Italy has led to the development of an expanded processing facility. To read more about the important benefits farmer communities have enjoyed thanks to Canadian purchases of Camino whole brown sugar, please read the article From the chills of Ottawa to the hills of Montero Peru