Fairtrade Fortnight is an important time each year to champion the importance of Fairtrade products and raise awareness about this important global movement.
Since its creation by Labour, the Department for International Development has done valuable work to promote fair trade. Future governments should continue to support and expand the role that fair and ethical trade can play in helping the world’s poorest people.
As Fairtrade Foundation states there is enough food in the world for us all – however some farmers and workers around the world earn so little they simply cannot afford it. Fairtrade works to change this. When people get a fairer price, they can take more control over their lives worrying less about how to feed their families ensuring food on the table all year round. The minimum price Fairtrade provides for producers and the additional Fairtrade Premium for investment are vital tools in tackling global poverty.
The Co-operative movement has a proud record in blazing a trail for Fairtrade products and its wider awareness about Fairtrade. For example, the Co-operative Group has supported the Fairtrade movement for over 20 years. In addition to the meaningful trade links and guaranteed Fairtrade prices the Group and its member owners have raised £30million in Fairtrade Premiums which is estimated to have benefited 250,000 people. Indeed, in December 2015 its Fairtrade Wine Report revealed that since the beginning of their involvement in Fairtrade the Co-op has sold over 50 million bottles of Fairtrade wine, more than any other retailer in the world.
Work like this from retailers is desperately important but there is a role for Governments as well. Products produced under fair trade conditions need to be available to the consumer at reasonable prices. It is vital that progress is made on international trade rules so that producers in the poorest countries of the world have fair access to Europe and other major markets.
We need to address the issue of ownership and the role that DFID and other development organisations can play in encouraging co-operatives. This has the potential to allow some of the poorest families and communities to have a bigger stake, and therefore more security. An example of this might be for Fairtrade producers to own a higher proportion of their supply chain.
The theme of Fairtrade fortnight this year is the Fairtrade breakfast, co-operators around the country will be taking part, spreading the message and ensuring that a new generation in this country stands by ready to support the development of this important global movement. I am particularly pleased to see that a new All Party Group on Fairtrade has been established in Westminster, politicians of all colours must unite around this important issue.