One of the features of being committed to positive campaigning is the way a landmark can reveal how much we’ve really changed thing for the better. Twenty years on from the launch of the Fairtrade Mark it was wonderful to hear good news about what’s been achieved over the years.
From small beginnings, and a handful of products, there are now numerous brands, big and small, committed to offering a better deal to the producers of our food and drinks.
With Bristol having Fairtrade City status there’s a lot going on in our city, in schools, large organisations, and the retail sector – it’s become a normal feature of many cafes and employers’ catering concessions, for instance. See: http://www.bristolfairtrade.org.uk/
I was very impressed with the story of coffee when I had the chance to attend the Fairtrade Breakfast for local businesses that launched the fortnight here in the city. The account from a rural coffee grower from upland Nicaragua, Margarita Espinoza, brought home to us all how our tiny, daily choices of drinks and snacks can add up to a life-changing route to rural development. Through an interpreter Margarita described how the Fairtrade price guarantee can be the difference between hunger and health, and the premium is being used to help thousands of women and men to get cancer check-ups, to equip schools, and to protect the environment. It has also helped many small growers in the co-op she’s part of to process their coffee beans together and now it’s empowered them to create and pack an export brand of their own coffee that’s sold to the USA.
We also heard the story of an initially sceptical businessman, Alan Barr from Burgess Salmon (our hosts for the breakfast), who many years back said he’d been puzzled at what it was all about when he responded to a 12 year old who asked what they could do to promote Fairtrade in their church. He said it seemed insignificant at the time, a small table of coffee and tea for those who attended, and yet now he’s proud to feel he’s playing a part building a £140m annual turnover in produce in the UK today. So I left thinking how even a simple matter such as choosing Fairtrade bananas can make a real difference to lives around the world. http://foncho.fairtrade.org.uk/
Basic things like sanitation, safe working conditions, health checks for growers, and advice for women and men on domestic violence, plus support for education. The Fairtrade premium does make a difference!
Postscript: I was also delighted to hear at the end of FairTrade Fortnight how local shop Harvest has been awarded a prize in the regional business awards. Gloucester Road’s Harvest won a top award for best fair-trade retailer in the south west. Well done to everyone there for winning the Gold award in the Fair Trade Business awards for Best Retail Outlet! see www.harvest-bristol.coop