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Swaziland: fair trade and the Chilli Grandmas

The 'Chilli Grandmas' in Swaziland are showing the difference fair trade can make to the lives of people in the developing world ...

The 'Chilli Grandmas' in Swaziland are showing the difference fair trade can make to the lives of people in the developing world ...

This autumn, Traidcraft, the UK’s leading fair trade organisation, is urging people around the country to Show You Care and support its life-changing work by buying fair trade.

In purchasing from Traidcraft’s wide range of fair trade products, producers and artisans in some of the world’s poorest regions can be lifted out of poverty and supported to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families.

As part of the campaign, Traidcraft is highlighting many powerful stories of producers it works with around the developing world – people like Swaziland’s inspiring Chilli Grandmas.

Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV infection rate, with more than a quarter of the adult population suffering from the disease; leading to what is known as the ‘missing generation’, with many people dying in their 30s and 40s and the responsibility of caring for their children falling to the wider family, such as grandparents.

The group of nine Chilli Grandmas are all members of the Mavubetse Cooperative working for a company called Black Mamba, which produces a range of tasty fair trade sauces and pestos, sold through Traidcraft.

Their nickname ‘Chilli Grandmas’ stems from their work growing some of the chillis for Black Mamba. This forms a vital part of their income and has helped to transform their lives and those of the children they care for. The group also grow tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, cabbages and onions – for themselves and their families, and to sell locally. 

Buying from Traidcraft helps companies like Black Mamba support the development of new skills and farming techniques, meaning all produce is organic and workers who have suffered such heartbreak can provide a better future for their families – with enough money to feed their families and pay for school fees.

Ntombi Ndlovu is one of the chilli-growing Grandmas working for Black Mamba, who cares for her grandchildren. She said: “My grandchildren are the best thing to me. The chillis we grow are very special – we don’t use fertilisers or anything; we just grow organic chillis for Black Mamba.

“Keep on buying the products – when you buy from Black Mamba, Black Mamba is buying from us, so we’re able to feed our families and the ones who are sick can get the support they need.”

Larry Bush, Traidcraft’s Director of Marketing, said: “Our ‘Show You Care’ campaign is all about helping people like the Chilli Grandmas out of poverty – giving them a better vision for the future. It’s about giving them the tools they need to grow more, which in turn helps them earn more money and provide for their families.

“In spite of all the hardships they’ve faced, the fun-loving group of grandmothers are a true inspiration. They are absolutely dedicated to supporting their families and the energy, warmth, singing and laughter they bring is just a joy to see.

“Show You Care is our message to UK consumers that their support is vital if we are to continue our unique, pioneering work in the developing world – as we have for more than 30 years.

"By buying fair trade from Traidcraft, you can help real people who would otherwise struggle to have their voices heard – people like the incredible Chilli Grandmas and their families.” Anyone interested in purchasing from the Black Mamba range can visit Traidcraft’s online store, as well as buying from Fair Traders and Traidcraft stockists across the country.

The Black Mamba range of sauces and pestos, includes the following:

  • Black Mamba Fair Trade Chilli Sauce, 125ml - £2.25
  • Black Mamba Fair Trade Basil Cayenne Pesto, 210g - £3.95

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