The world on our table – How you can make a change

7 July 2014

Growing up in Nigeria, I saw people, including my own parents, working on farms, putting in long hours under harsh working conditions and earning minimal wages. I am so glad that Fairfood International works to change the food system and to improve the lives of people working to produce our food. It was the chance to contribute towards changing the situation of workers and farmers that drove me to start working at Fairfood.

If we look around at breakfast time we see the world on our table. Coffee from Guatemala, tea from Sri Lanka, tomatoes from Morocco … our food comes from all over the world and we are privileged people, because we have plenty and we sometimes even throw it away. From my childhood I know that this is unusual. In many countries people have limited diets and do not have enough to eat and or even to feed their families year round.

I am convinced that we can produce enough to feed the world, even in 2050 when there will be 9 billion people on this planet. But we have to do this while preserving the environment and ensuring better socio-economic benefits for all, especially workers and small farmers.

I agree with those who say we need to have a food system which ensures that workers earn enough to afford nutritious food, clothing, housing, education for their children and medical care. We call that a living wage.

Not paying workers a living wage in food supply chains is unfair. Many of them work long hours under harsh working conditions, for example, in the pineapple industry in Mindanao, Philippines, where workers put in 14-15 hours a day. Their income is insecure because they work on temporary contracts or are paid by piece work. On some farms, without being given adequate protective clothing, workers have to spray chemicals which are banned in Europe and US because they cause severe health problems and endanger the environment.

Not so long ago, a pineapple was a very expensive fruit. Now we have canned pineapples for a euro or so. Of course that is cheap. But the price we pay for it is that in Mindanao workers do not get paid a wage that they can live on. That price is too high for me.

I therefore feel strongly connected to the cause of Fairfood for seeking to help the Philippine pineapple workers through capacity development training. With your help these workers will be empowered to better fight for their rights. For every 26 euros you donate, Fairfood can train a pineapple worker to fight for a living wage. Please donate.

To hear from the pineapple workers in Mindanao themselves, I recommend you watch the documentary Land of Promise? and make a commitment to stand with them. Thank you!

Anselm Iwundu, Executive director Fairfood International