Eksteenskuil Agricultural Cooperative (EAC) is based just outside the town of Keimoes in the Northern Cape area of South Africa, near the southern edge of the Kalahari desert.
EAC has around 100 members, who tend to be smallholder farmers growing high-quality raisins in a tough environment. The raisins, sundried Thompson’s, are used mainly for our delicious Geobars and GeoMuesli. With Traidcraft’s support, small-scale farmers at the Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC) became the world’s first supplier of Fairtrade raisins – a vital ingredient in every Geobar!
The farmers of the cooperative are fighting to farm on tough, unforgiving land that is exposed to environmental threats. Localised summer hailstorms can be extremely destructive, writing off crops and even damaging property, while untimely frosts, especially during the early growing season, can also lead to crop damage. And the nearby Orange River has the capacity to cause flooding.
Since we started buying Fairtrade raisins from EAC in the 1990s, the Fairtrade premium has been spent on a variety of projects, including buying machinery that can be hired by the members to help them farm.
Fytta [pronounced Fayter] is 49-years-old and is married with three sons. Fytta does all of the farming and is the EAC member. Her husband is a builder.
"I have been a member of EAC since 2009. I joined so that I could become part of the various projects and programs. I like the training and information days. I go to all of the training I can and I took part in the training on Fair Trade. Fair trade is a way of helping people and so that we can sell our products at a good and fair price. I like being a farmer. The best moment is when it is harvest time and you can see the results of all of your hard work. Because I am a woman then I hope that other women can see me and realise that they can be farmers too.
"We are grateful that you buy our raisins and I am proud that you are eating our raisins in the UK. Being a farmer here and knowing that you like our raisins makes me proud and happy."