Does Fairtrade still matter? Local activists who are busy planning events for Fairtrade Fortnight at the end of February, believe it’s more important than ever.
Buying goods with the Fairtrade mark means that the producers get more than the current world market price plus a premium to spend in their own community on schools, wells or clinics – whatever they decide.
But Fairtrade is about a lot more than price. Producers have to keep to high standards for health and safety and protecting the environment and it’s important that women are involved at all levels. Child labour is definitely out. A big problem now is our changing climate which can be disastrous for farmers, especially if they are only growing one product. Fairtrade organisations are helping farmers to experiment with more resistant crops and to diversify into new areas.
Fairtrade has been a huge success. You can now find the Mark on over 6,000 products in the UK, ranging from ice-cream to gold rings, flowers to footballs. And at least 1.7 million farmers and workers have better lives as a result of fairer prices plus the extra money which goes into their communities to build schools, wells or clinics – whatever they decide. But more people using Fairtrade products would really help. At the moment only 10% of the cocoa we buy is sold at Fairtrade prices
Campaigners believe that consumers care much more now about buying ethical products than they did. Sue James from the local Fairtrade group says: “We know the UK public do not want poverty and exploitation to be part of the price of their chocolate bars. Shoppers are asking more questions about where their products come from, and how the people involved were treated and paid. So, this year we are sharing the stories of West African cocoa farmers. We want people to know that these farmers who supply about 60% of our cocoa live on an average of 75p a day, (The extreme poverty line is £1.40 a day). For the women the situation is even worse because they do most of the work. They have to plant and harvest on the farm, look after children, carry water, collect wood, cook and clean for the family, and transport the cocoa beans to market but often with fewer rights than men. All for 75p a day.
This is why Fairtrade supporters are campaigning for a living income to become a reality for cocoa farmers in West Africa. If we can work together with governments, chocolate companies and retailers to make the commitments and policies necessary, then we can make it happen.
Everyone can help. Don’t forget the power you have as consumers – just choose Fairtrade every time and let shops know the changes you’d like to see.
And help celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight. It runs from Monday 24 February – Sunday 8 March 2020 and it’s a time to celebrate what Fairtrade has achieved and to show people that it really does matter. It’s easy to organise a tea party or coffee morning using Fairtrade products and you can get posters from the Fairtrade Foundation or download some short films from their website. Have a look at thir resources for Fairtrade Fortnight. You could also contact one of the local groups (Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport) for ideas and help. You can find links to them all here:
See what was achieved in 2019.
More information from the Fairtrade Foundation
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