FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT: HOW WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

January 23, 2017 Latest Features; Latest News; Trends

1 in 3 people in Kenya’s coffee and tea growing regions live in poverty, tea pickers in Malawi earn less than £1.46 a day, and over 2,000,000 children work in hazardous conditions in cocoa production in Cote d’lvoire and Ghana.

2017 sees the 23rd Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK. It will also be one of the most uncertain years for a generation when it comes to trade. Following the vote for Brexit, the UK will be coming to terms with the urgent need to renegotiate more than 50 international trade deals. And no one knows yet what this will mean for farmers and workers in poor countries.

At the same time, the spiralling price wars between supermarkets are set to intensify, putting even more pressure on the most vulnerable producers who deliver so much of what we eat. It’s more crucial than ever that the voices of farmers and workers are heard – to combat the risk of undoing the progress of the past two decades of Fairtrade, and putting farmers in an even worse position in the future.

The aim of Fairtrade Fortnight is to get across to as many people as possible that many of the farmers and workers who grow our food aren’t getting paid fairly. Farmers in countries such as Kenya, Malawi and Cote d’lvoire who are impacted by poor pay and working conditions provide tea, coffee and cocoa which is enjoyed by many in the UK. Our question is, if we truly knew the cost of exploitation on these farmers, would we still make the same decisions when buying products so easily accessible to us in supermarkets in the UK?

Organisers of the annual Fairtrade Fortnight have given us a few simple challenges to truly get us thinking about the impact on our buying choices on these farmers;

  1. Create as many breaks as possible for people in your community.

Whether it’s over a tea or coffee, give them a moment in their busy day to stop and reflect on whether they are feeding exploitation or not – and take action.

  1. Tell real stories about farmers and workers in poor countries who produce the food and drink that make our breaks so enjoyable.

We want to show how unfair trade impacts their lives, and leave people with the thought: how can I not buy Fairtrade?

  1. Take the message beyond your network to the general public.

We need to reach new people to convince them to choose Fairtrade. Think about how your plans will inspire new audiences.

So, that begs the question; if exploitation left its mark on your food, would you still buy it?

Take a minute to reflect on this while learning more about Edson, a Fairtrade farmer;

Edson Maotchedwe, from Malawi, is a Fairtrade tea farmer and father of seven. Edson’s co-operative has invested Fairtrade Premium in building a maternity wing and school, a new bridge, clean water and an ambulance.

This was life-saving when two of Edson’s children suffered from malaria. ‘I believe Fairtrade has already started playing a role in helping me realise the future for my children and children of our area,’ he says. But there is more to do. ‘My thoughts almost every night are preoccupied by worries of how I can improve the welfare of my family. I have children and a wife to look after and it is difficult to raise proper income in our country. So, I always ponder how or what I can do to improve our lives as a family.’

There are a number of activities suggested by Fairtrade Fortnight organisers which we can do to spread the message about Fairtrade farming;

KEEP IT COSY

February might be cold. Creating a cosy space will entice the public to take a break – especially if you’re in a shopping area. Think beanbags, inflatable chairs and armchairs. It’s the perfect opportunity to deliver the message that consumers can choose not to feed exploitation by choosing Fairtrade.

TAKE A BREAK AT WORK

Many workplaces now serve Fairtrade products. You could inspire them to hold a special Fairtrade break to engage their staff. You could add a baking competition or simply put up a poster to get people thinking.

TIME FOR A FLASH MOB

Want to catch the attention of busy passers-by? You could arrange an eye-catching flash mob in shopping centres and town squares. Disruptive breaks like this really have an impact, and can sometimes attract media coverage. They can be a lot of fun to take part in and a great way to involve young people.

FUNDRAISE FOR FAIRTRADE

Donations to the Fairtrade Foundation help to bring a fair deal to more farmers and workers. Funds go towards projects that support producers to improve their livelihoods, and tackle some of the problems that trap them in poverty. For more fundraising ideas, and information about the difference your money can make, visit fairtrade.org.uk/fundraise

GET SOCIAL

Invite people to take a picture of their break and share it via Twitter, Facebook and beyond – to make the statement that they aren’t feeding exploitation. You can do this most effectively as part of an event or stall. With a simple prop and a tiny incentive, you can spread the reach of your work to thousands more. Just use the hashtag #fairtradefortnight

So, what are you waiting for? To get involved or to learn more about Fairtrade Fortnight, visit the official website here. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to let us know how you’re getting involved.