This is Fairtrade Fortnight when individuals, companies and groups come together to celebrate food producers in otherwise exploited and unfair markets. This year the focus is on women with the She Deserves campaign. Farmers in West Africa need £1.86 a day to achieve a living income and that includes women who not only work on the crops but are homemakers too.
Fairtrade was set up to help producers of goods like cocoa, coffee, fruit, wine and sugar get better prices and to promote sustainability through higher social and environmental standards.
Fairtrade empowers consumers to make ethical and economically sensible choices. In the UK we currently have 500 Fairtrade towns, 118 Universities, 6000 churches and 4000 Fairtrade schools. One of the driving forces has been the Cooperative Society, unsurprising since fair-trade producers have to work in cooperatives to be part of the movement.
This year is also the 25th anniversary of Fairtrade being incorporated into the work of the EU helping Fairtrade to become a global phenomenon. Of course there is sometimes a conflict between defending the livelihoods of domestic farmers and fair trade abroad but Fairtrade helps to ensure a shared vision based on cooperation rather than a race to the bottom.
I’ll be attending a number of Fairtrade events in my constituency and in Parliament during Fairtrade Fortnight. And we can all do our bit even if it’s just choosing chocolate with the Fairtrade logo.