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Standing With Small-Scale Farmers: An Interview With Fair World Project's Dana Geffner

Small farmers produce over 70 percent of the world’s food on one-quarter of the planet’s farmland. This may not be possible for much longer. With the pressure of globalization, unjust competition, lack of access to information and changing climate patterns, small-scale farmers around the world are struggling to sustain their livelihoods.

So, what can each of us do to help ensure we have enough food to feed the world going forward? How can we support small-scale farmers, who are bearing the brunt of the impacts of our economic system?

Grow Ahead interviewed Dana Geffner, co-founder and Executive Director of Fair World Project (FWP), an NGO that advocates for fair trade policies that foster a just economy. She is also on Grow Ahead’s board of directors. 

In her interview with Grow Ahead, Dana tells us her story. From teaching in the high tech industry, traveling Latin America and witnessing the detrimental impacts of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), selling handicrafts door to door, to her work with FWP, Dana has dedicated her life to engaging consumers so they can participate in creating a more just economy through the market and in transforming policy.

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Interview: Dana Geffner | July 6, 2017

Grow Ahead (GA): Tell us your story. What led you to co-found FWP?

Dana Geffner (DG): My work in the fair trade movement began after traveling and volunteering in Latin America. In the late 1990s, I was working in the high tech industry and also teaching high school students when I decided I wanted to travel and learn from different cultures. I started volunteering in communities in Guatemala and Nicaragua. During this time I learned about how NAFTA policies impacted the daily lives of people in the region so that a handful of corporations could reap the benefits of high profits at the expense of local people and their communities. I wanted people in the United States to understand what happens to communities abroad when policies crafted by corporations place the importance of profits over people and the environment. Communities were being devastated, families were being broken up, girls were being forced into prostitution. I wanted to show people that alternatives existed through solidarity partnerships and economic development programs that put communities first. That’s how I found the fair trade movement. In 1999, I returned to the U.S. and started focusing on educating my friends and families in their homes about the issues and challenges that small-scale producers in the global south face due to unjust competition and policies implemented by global north countries.

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