On Tuesday 28th February, 45 MPs took part in a Fairtrade Break in Parliament being held to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight, which is asking consumers to think about the farmers and workers in poor countries behind some of the UK’s favourite, every day grocery items.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fairtrade event helped to spread the campaign’s urgent message: ‘Don’t Feed Exploitation’, as it highlighted that smallholder farmers are responsible for providing the majority of the UK’s tea and coffee, yet 1 in 3 people in Kenya’s coffee and tea growing regions live in poverty; over 2 million children work in hazardous conditions in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; and the average cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire lives on less than 40p a day.
Guest speakers included International Development Minister Rory Stewart MP, a coffee farmer from Tanzania, campaigners from across the UK and secondary school students from Cambridge.
In total, 45 MPs from different political parties attended the event and met representatives from Fairtrade towns across all regions of the UK as well as coffee farmer Leonard Kachebonaho, who is one of the founders of the Fairtrade-certified co-operative Kaderes Peasants Development Plc (KPD).
Leonard Kachebonaho said: “Thank you all for supporting Fairtrade. Many people in my region live on less than $2 a day and they depend on money from coffee sales. Now we are in our 6th year since joining Fairtrade and we have been able to support fellow farmers with farming to improve the environment and focus on quality to make sure you are always getting the best from us. Through Fairtrade farmers have also been able to invest in social projects such as improving health facilities, water tanks and schools. A new local secondary school now has 187 girls attending out of 293 – so a lot of girls are getting a good education and that is thanks to you.”
Adam Gardner, Fairtrade Foundation Campaign Manager, said: “We can’t achieve all that we do without the support of people up and down the country who choose Fairtrade when they shop and continue to campaign for the rights of farmers from developing countries. They won’t stand for exploitation, and we’re delighted that so many of them came along to this event to speak to MPs about the importance of ensuring farmers and workers continue to receive fair prices and decent conditions. But perhaps most importantly, we all had the opportunity to hear from Leonard directly about the difference that we can all make, when we put Fairtrade in our break.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The APPG for Fairtrade, was established in 2015 after campaigners in Holmfirth, Yorkshire approached local MPs Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley and Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax and asked if they could do more to highlight the issues facing farmers in developing countries.
The event was supported by the Co-operative, which has recently announced that in addition to ensuring all of its chocolate confectionery is Fairtrade, from the end of May 2017 all of the cocoa they buy for own label products will be sourced on Fairtrade terms.
It was also attended by Traidcraft, which is campaigning with the Fairtrade Foundation to make sure Brexit works for people who trade with us from the poorest countries. Many of the MPs who attended the event showed their support for this campaign which is calling on the government to reassure farmers like Leonard by offering a fair deal for developing countries in future trade policies.
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- The FAIRTRADE Mark on products is an independent consumer label that appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade.
- Today, more than 1.65 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 76 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
- Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.
- Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2015, at a level of 93%.