Last week we celebrated Fairtrade Fortnight – two weeks promoting the idea that through the things we buy, we can improve the lives of others. Fairtrade certified products help to ensure better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms for workers in the poorest parts of our world. Plus, producers receive a fair-trade premium to invest in projects that will help the long-term future for their area: schools, medical facilities, or vital environmental work, for example.
Whether it be a bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine, a bag of sugar or a bunch of bananas, there are now thousands of products supporting people in developing countries. Nearly half of all sugar sold is now fair-trade, and a quarter of all coffee, which shows what support there is in the UK. Last week, I had a morning coffee with Ghanaian cocoa farmers Mavis and Mercy, who produce the cocoa for Divine chocolate, along with Sophie, who runs Divine. They told me about the health clinic that has been provided via the Fairtrade premium.
You can now buy Fairtrade clothing made with ethically sourced cotton or gold rings, where the organisation ensures safe working conditions for small scale gold miners across Latin America. In 2013 we spent £1.7 billion on Fairtrade products, an increase of 14 per cent on 2012. Fairtrade works with 1.3 million farmers and workers and 1,149 producer organisations in more than 70 developing countries.
I was proud in September 2009, when Labour’s Douglas Alexander announced that we would support Fairtrade with £12 million over the next four years in order to scale up its work supporting farmers in developing countries to access better terms of trade in global markets.
The funding was later extended for two years, but it is due to come to an end soon. The Government needs to announce its plans soon on how it will support Fairtrade in the future to achieve our international development goals. It is vital that we build on the success of this important idea, so that we can ensure farmers receive a fair price for their product.
By Alison McGovern for Wirral News