Joining the UTZ program means farmers have to implement practices that are good for their business, people and the planet. In return we believe these efforts lead to benefits for farmers too. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the human side of the UTZ program. We sat down with Beth Hearn, corporate communication specialist at UTZ, to learn about the concrete ways UTZ certification contributes to a better life for farmers, workers and their families.
Better incomes for farmers
UTZ works with more than 850,000 farmers. For them, one of the main motivations to join the UTZ program is to improve their income. Training in good agricultural practices means farmers can increase their productivity – growing more while reducing their costs, and often improving the quality of their harvest as well.
Another important factor is training in how to diversify their income – for example, growing other crops alongside coffee, cocoa or tea. This helps protect the farmer’s income if one crop is particularly affected by the weather conditions, pests or diseases.
Combined with a variable premium, these factors contribute to increasing farmer incomes.
Better wages for workers
Equally important are the workers on certified farms – more than 424,000 people in 2016. Certified farmers must always pay their workers the minimum wage, and on large individually certified farms they must also make progress towards the payment of a ‘living wage’ – defined as enough to afford a decent standard of living for a worker and their family, and tailored to living costs in their specific location. A vital first step is defining exactly how much a living wage would be. That’s why UTZ is part of the Global Living Wage Coalition, which is developing a global database of benchmarks for a living wage in different countries and sectors.
Living and working conditions
Incomes and wages are not the only topics. The Code of Conduct is based on all the most important conventions of the International Labor Organization – for example, forced labor is banned, and workers must have the right to freedom of association.
Child labor is a very important issue – children under 12 should not be working at all. Older children can help out with light work that is appropriate to their age, so long as it doesn’t interfere with their schooling or expose them to hazardous conditions. Any cases of child labor that are found must be remediated, and we provide guidance on how to get children back into school
Farmers must provide decent housing to workers who live on site, as well as access to clean drinking water, medical assistance, maternity leave, and other benefits.
For farmers and workers alike, UTZ covers safe and healthy working conditions. For example, making sure to wear the right protective equipment when using pesticides or dangerous tools.
Communications around sustainable sourcing can often have a dry or distant tone. Make it personal and relatable by showing how your company contributes to a better life for farmers. Our UTZ Better Life impact visuals like the one you see on the left, but also farmer testimonials and our infographic make it easy to illustrate these benefits to your audience.