27 February, 2015

A sugar cane farmer Allan Saidi blogs about Fairtrade Fortnight

Malawi 2
by Allan Saidi, Fairtrade Secretary of Kasinthula Cane Growers Association based in Chikwawa Southern region of Malawi.

Allan Saidi is taking part in the Fairtrade campaigners' producer tour across Wales during Fairtrade Fortnight with Fair Trade Wales. Find out where you can meet him here .

My name is Allan Saidi, Fairtrade sugar farmer from Kasinthula Cane Growers Association based in Chikwawa Southern region of Malawi. Last week I arrived in the UK to take part in Fairtrade Fortnight. This was  my first time to fly, and my first time ever leaving my country.

I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time, to encourage unity between the shoppers and poor farmers. Before I came I had some ideas about what to share with people, such as the benefits that my community has been able to achieve because UK consumers buy  our Fairtrade sugar.

My role is Fairtrade Secretary of the farmers’ association. I write meeting minutes for farmers meetings when deciding which projects should be implemented in the communities with Fairtrade premium funds.  I also report on the Premium incomes to the farmers. So I see every day the difference Fairtrade makes.

Malawi

Since I arrived I have visited the Tower of London, British Museum and travelled across London. It is amazing to see the infrastructure and old buildings in the UK. It is also amazing to find out there are helpful and understanding people working on Fairtrade campaigning all around the UK for nothing but benefitting poor farmers in Malawi, and other  developing countries. I am looking forward to meeting as many people as possible to tell them about the difference that they make for farmers when they buy Fairtrade sugar.

Yesterday I went to the Houses of Parliament to speak with MPs about the challenges that sugar farmers might face due to EU reforms. We could lose access to EU markets for our sugar, because we cannot compete with EU sugar farmers after the changes make the price go down. As a result, we shall lose the UK market which is where we sell all of our sugar and the farmers will be pushed back into poverty and struggle to survive.

The extra funds that we get after selling our sugar on Fairtrade terms to the UK allow us to build good houses, provide electricity, boreholes, schools, clinics and also supporting the workers and farmers with ambulances which helps to have a safe and quick journey to hospital. We also provide food for farmers and workers in Kasinthula. In Malawi we experience unreliable rainfall so when there is a drought or flooding the food we provide is even more important. In the future we would like to build more boreholes in remaining villages, a secondary school and income generation projects.

I know we cannot change the EU reforms but the MPs might bring measures that will protect the farmers if they cannot sell their sugar to the UK and continue to invest Fairtrade premium in the communities.

It is not only politicians who can make a difference. I have just arrived in Cardiff to meet different people all over Wales during Fairtrade Fortnight to tell them about the difference  they can make to sugar farmers when they buy Fairtrade sugar, and the challenges that sugar farmers might face and why choosing Fairtrade sugar is more important than ever before.

Choose Fairtrade to make a difference in my life and the lives of people in my community.

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