First introduced in the island of Mauritius by the Dutch in 1638, sugarcane now covers one third of the entire island, where the tropical climate and volcanic soil offer the perfect conditions for its cultivation. All sugars produced on the island are sold through the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate, a non-profit organization governed by sugar producers, comprising corporate and smaller independent sugarcane growers as well as millers.
The Mauritius Sugar Syndicate works with over ten thousand growers, distributed in thirty-three cooperatives, with a total production capacity of more than thirty thousand metric tons. Their fair trade journey began in 2008 and today a significant amount of the sugar produced by the island’s small farmers is exported by the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate as fair trade, supporting local development and improving rural livelihoods.
In addition to white refined sugar, their portfolio includes eighteen different varieties of special sugars (for more information, access the Mauritius Sugar Brochure), produced from 100% high quality cane juice. Their products are developed to deliver specific textures, aromas, tastes, and mouth-feel to respond perfectly to different preferences of professionals and end-users (for more information, see product usage guidelines).
Fair Trade Community Development Funds have been driving change for the communities involved through projects focused on productivity improvements (mechanization, provision of inputs & PPE, irrigation), crop and income diversification, and education and community support. Fair trade certification has also helped mitigate the decline in farmer incomes, which have fallen below the viability threshold in the last two years due to the end of preferential trade agreements and sugar quotas in the EU.
Community Development Funds are a core part of the fair trade model. A pool of money is set aside to address community needs. A committee of farmers and workers is formed to manage the fund and conduct a needs assessment. The community then votes on projects to address those needs and the committee is then tasked with managing the implementation of the projects that are selected.
Mr. Mohamed Issah (pictured below), is a 72-year-old small farmer with about 0.23 hectares of land. He uses sugarcane residues for mulching postharvest and has never used herbicides. Every day he carries out manual weeding.
Last year, with the benefits provided by the Community Development Fund, such as access to locally produced biofertilizer and a cash incentive to harvest green sugarcane, he was able to increase his yields and income by roughly $4 USD per ton. He was able to do this while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions due to the reduction of the use of mineral fertilizers and burning practices.
Examples like the one of Mr. Mohamed are a sweet reminder of the kind of impact that companies and consumers can have when they choose Fair Trade Certified™.
To learn more about the Mauritius Sugar Syndicate, visit: https://mauritiussugar.mu/ or reach out to our team!