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'Remember the Producers' in Fairtrade Fortnight

Wednesday February 15 2017

Rahel Mhabuka, a tea worker at Kibena Tea Estate in Tanzania. Picture by Simon Rawles

Churches, schools, business and individuals are being urged to remember the producers this Fairtrade Fortnight.

The annual celebration of Fairtrade, which runs from February 27 – March 12, is happening during what the Fairtrade Foundation calls ‘one of the most uncertain years for a generation when it comes to trade’.

No-one is sure what the trade renegotiations in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union will mean for farmers and workers in poor countries; and the ongoing downwards pressure on price from supermarkets continues to impact on the vulnerable producers at the opposite end of the supply chain.

In its action guide for the Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation states: “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 simple fact we need to get across to as many people as possible this Fairtrade Fortnight is this: that many of the farmers and workers who grow our food aren’t getting paid fairly.

“And the problem is closer to home than people might think.

“Thousands of farmers in countries such as Malawi, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire all contribute to the tea, coffee and cocoa we enjoy in the UK. And yet many of those farmers are still living in poverty.”

The Foundation calls on Fairtrade supporters to raise awareness by holding events at church or work and by getting the local media to take an interest (among the resources is a brand new guide to holding a press stunt) and sharing on social media.

Churches are also being asked to make Fairtrade the theme of their worship, and a separate churches action guide [pdf] includes readings, prayers and sermon notes for Sundays February 26 (which is the last Sunday before Lent), March 5 and 12.

Visit the Fairtrade Foundation website for resources, event packs and merchandise.


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Comments

Rev Dr John Cameron - Saturday, February 25th, 2017

“Fairtrade is essentially a marketing organisation which has very successfully marketed itself to the Church of Scotland. But most economists like me believe Fairtrade is in fact unfair. It offers only a very small number of farmers a higher, fixed price for their goods. These higher prices come at the expense of the great majority of farmers, who – unable to qualify for Fairtrade certification – are left even worse off. Many of the farmers helped by Fairtrade are in Mexico, a relatively developed country - very few in the likes of Ethiopia.
Fair trade doesn’t aid economic development - in fact it keeps the poor in their place, sustaining uncompetitive farmers on their land and holding back diversification, mechanization, and moves up the value chain. This denies future generations the chance of a better life. It helps landowners, rather than the agricultural labourers who suffer the severest poverty. Its rules actually make it harder for labourers to gain permanent, full-time employment.
Just 10% of the premium consumers pay for Fairtrade actually goes to the producer. People further along the retail chain take the rest. Four-fifths of the produce sold by Fairtrade-certified farmers ends up in non-Fairtrade goods. At the same time, it is possible that many goods sold as Fairtrade might not actually be Fairtrade at all. Western consumers now have a wide variety of ethical alternatives to Fairtrade, many of which represent more effective ways to fight poverty, increase the poor's standard of living and aid economic development.


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