Every day millions of farmers in developing countries provide the food that we eat, yet many are not being paid enough to support their families. They are paying the real cost of our cheap everyday foods.
To raise awareness of this exploitation Fairtrade groups are taking part in Fairtrade Fortnight. The nationwide initiative, led by the Fairtrade Foundation, runs from 27 February to 12 March and highlights to shoppers where the produce they are buying comes from and at what cost to producers.
Mold Fairtrade event
During the campaign thousands of people across the UK will chose Fairtrade products for their morning break. In Mold the Fairtrade group will be serving Fairtrade tea, coffee and biscuits from a stall in Daniel Owen Square on Saturday 4 March from 10am to 2pm (weather permitting). There will also be a children’s activity with Fairtrade bananas kindly donated by Mold Co-op.
Fairtrade works with 1.5 million farmers and workers in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin and Central America enabling them to earn a sustainable income and the Fairtrade Premium. When shoppers chose to buy a Fairtrade product they are helping to support better, fairer trade for growers of tea, cocoa, bananas, coffee and other crops sourced around the world.
A nice cup of tea?
When we sit down to a cup of tea we may not think about where it comes from. In the world’s main tea producing regions, more than 30% of children are malnourished – resulting in stunted physical and mental development. In Malawi, this rises to 50%. Tea is Malawi’s second largest export and 90 per cent of its tea is sold to the UK. Tea sales are in decline as tea becomes less fashionable with the younger coffee-drinking generation. Less demand means lower prices for the farmers. Also global warming and an increase in pests and disease are reducing tea yields in Malawi.
There is also uncertainty as the UK starts to renegotiate more than 50 international trade deals following Brexit. It is difficult to know how these will impact on people who trade with us from poor countries. The Fairtrade Foundation is concerned that unless the UK government puts in place new measures, products from the poorest countries could face around £1 billion in extra taxes. And as 75 per cent of Malawians already live below the international poverty line, they are deeply worried about the future.
Why Fairtrade matters
Farmers get a better deal when they sell their crops on Fairtrade terms.
This leads to a more stable income, meaning they can feed their children and send them to school. It allows them to develop better farming methods, to invest in clean water and to improve the health of whole communities. Fairtrade supports farmers, giving them more control over their future and the community in which their families live and work.
The Co-op leads the way with cocoa
The Co-op has announced that it will become the first UK retailer to use only Fairtrade cocoa in its products. More than 200 products will be included from the sprinkles on its doughnuts, to products reliant on cocoa like chocolate cakes. The Co-op estimated that the move was worth over £7m to the industry and will generate £450,000 in the Fair-trade premium every year.
Brad Hill, Co-op’s Fairtrade strategy manager, said: “The UK is the world’s biggest Fairtrade market and the world’s fourth biggest consumer of chocolate, but our manufacturers and retailers still only source a tiny amount on Fairtrade terms. When we consider that demand for cocoa is set to rise by 30% over the next three years alone, it’s imperative that we keep moving forward with sustainability initiatives in order to shape this industry. We must help to improve the lives of farming communities who are still suffering a raw deal.”
Cheap food on the high street often means someone else is paying the price. Low incomes in developing countries keep farmers in poverty. This leads to poor healthcare and dangerous working conditions. Would people still love a bargain if we brought these problems closer to home? Sometimes we just don’t think about what’s behind the cheap price.
Choose Fairtrade because farmers deserve a fair price.
For more information go to www.fairtrade.org.uk or contact Ken and Margaret Chisholm of the Mold Fairtrade group on 01244 950458.