"Trade not aid" or change through trade is the motto of Kipepeo Bio & Fair Ltd from Frickenhausen. Since 1999, Kipepeo has been importing only fair-trade and certified organic products from smallholder cooperatives in countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia and Thailand. Sven Ziegler talked to us about the current avocado season from Uganda, Corona's impact on production, and Kipepeo's position on the supply chain legislation.
Avocados without artificial irrigation from Uganda
Kipepeo receives two avocado varieties from Uganda: Hass and Jumbo. "The special thing about our avocados is that, like all our products, they exclusively come from small-scale mixed farming and not from large-scale plantations, as many avocados do. Due to the often negative water balance of avocado production, some consumers already avoid buying avocados altogether. This is because forests are often cleared for this purpose and additional demands are placed on already scarce groundwater resources. Our mixed-crop cultivation is not irrigated artificially; that is done by the rain alone. In addition, the CO2 emissions caused by the transport of our fruit are 100% compensated. Thus, climate-conscious consumers can enjoy our fruits with a clear conscience."
Special quality of avocados
Fair trade and organic certificates are among the most important aspects, says Ziegler: "Like all our fruit, the avocados are sun-ripened and do not travel for days by sea; rather they are on the supermarket shelves within a few days. Since the trees are tended and cared for locally by small farmers, this is a very natural production that is EU organic and "Fair for Life" certified. Our produce from Uganda comes from over 300 certified smallholders with whom we have been working for years under fair trade guidelines."
Massive problems due to 2020 lockdown
"Last year we had problems with increased freight prices and uncertainties about freight space. In addition, some of the drivers did not reach the distribution station before curfew and were detained at police stations. Our employees could not use public transportation to get to the projects because it was completely shut down due to the pandemic. All these people really took a lot on themselves. At the same time, the small farmers were also very grateful because they had a stable market and correspondingly reliable income due to the export that went on throughout." Ziegler is also enthusiastic about the fact that the projects are able to consistently supply their goods despite all the problems. We have received goods from Uganda every week without interruption."
Kipepeo's customers are organic wholesalers from the entire DACH region, from where the goods are distributed accordingly in the organic markets.
Position on the Supply Chain Act
Ziegler welcomed the Supply Chain Act, but at the same time said it did not go far enough for him: "We have expressly campaigned for the LkSG with the Fair Trade Forum. I think that we in Europe have to take responsibility for developing countries. We cannot hide our eyes from the often difficult working conditions there. We would have liked to see even more responsibility for German companies for the African region, so that ecological principles and respect for human rights are ensured locally. That is the real reason why Kipepeo exists, because we have the local people in mind and it is important to us that they have a fair share in our trade. Of course, it would be nice if all companies did this voluntarily. But since that's not the case, we very much welcome the LkSG, although as I said, it should be implemented more consistently."