Pieter Fourie, 24, Fair Root Estate, South Africa
My involvement in farming started as a little boy. I grew up on a farm and have been exposed to the ins and outs of a grape farm since I can remember. After one year in university I decided to start working at the family farm instead. The farm I worked for received the opportunity to become a part of the Fairtrade system and support the community through cooperative incentives and we were glad to join.
Lutzville Vineyards, our local cellar, helped make all of this possible by starting the relationship with Fairtrade. A part of the profits from the sale of Fairtrade goes into a premium fund that is owned by the employees of the Fairtrade farms. This fund is then used to improve the lives of these employees and the community through premium projects. Currently there are hundreds of direct beneficiaries in our community from this cooperative effort and the number is growing year by year.
The first premium fund project that became a reality this year was a farm owned by these beneficiaries. This farm, Fair Root Estate, is a sentiment of what is possible through cooperative effort and Fairtrade practices. The profit the farm makes will supplement the Fairtrade premium fund and continue to fund new projects for the betterment of the community.
In September 2021 I became the farm manager of Fair Root Estate. This means I could be more directly involved in making a difference through the cooperative model. I also got the opportunity to attend the first ever Fairtrade Africa continental youth convention in Kenya and meet like minded individuals from all over the continent. Here we exchanged stories and ideas and I got inspired to become more involved with the cooperative sector.
The cooperative Identity is shifting the balance in our communities by improving the lives of the working class in a democratic way that they have control over. This is an incredible feat already and will continue to grow exponentially opening up even more opportunities and projects in the future.
I am proud to be a part of the cooperative Identity and see it as a necessity to ensure good living standards for all in the future. Through this cooperative effort we can achieve great heights for all members of society as a whole.