The Co-operative Party has a proud tradition of championing the Fair Trade movement, which strives to give a greater voice to farmers and workers in the developing world. The goal being fair prices for their produce, decent working conditions and living wages, and real sustainability for their communities and the planet.

This year we’re asking our members to help promote Fairtrade Fortnight in support of our ongoing commitment to put people and planet before financial profit. That’s exactly what fair trade is all about!

Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual celebration that runs from 24 February to 8 March, and it’s coordinated in Wales by Fair Trade Wales. Over these two weeks people can show their support for farmers and workers in developing countries who produce the everyday items we enjoy; from cocoa to coffee to cotton and much more.

Hundreds of events from giant Fairtrade banana splits to coffee tastings are being carried out all over Wales, and this year there is a special focus on the important role women farmers play in the journey to liveable incomes.

We`re excited to promote the #SheDeserves campaign, which turns a spotlight on the `invisible women` in sectors such as cocoa in West Africa where 60% of the world`s cocoa is grown, and where the average farmer lives on as little as 74p a day. In regions like Côte d’Ivoire, women workers have far fewer rights than men and earn far less despite carrying out 68% of the farm labour whilst also being responsible for children and the home.

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations at the Senedd, we were delighted to meet the wonderful Jenipher Wettaka Sambazi, a Fairtrade coffee farmer and Vice Chair of the Mt. Elgon Coffee Cooperative in Uganda. We heard first-hand from Jenipher about her experiences as a coffee farmer, as a woman in leadership, and how the climate is impacting the cooperative homes and livelihoods in Mt. Elgon. It was truly inspirational!

The truth of the matter is that approximately 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee production for their livelihoods. It is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural product and is mainly produced by smallholder farmers. Many of them, however, are unable to earn a reliable living from the coffee they produce, meaning it isn`t enough to support the most basic needs such as fresh water, food, education, and healthcare.

We will continue to work with and support the Fairtrade movement to help put a stop to unfair conditions for essential farmers and workers worldwide.

So, as Wales Co-operative Party members, we are asking you to:

  • Buy Fair Trade items wherever you can, and if you can’t see it ask for it;
  • Share the stories of Fairtrade and your support for the movement on social media, using the hashtags #SheDeserves and #FairtradeFortnight;
  • And join in with your local Fair Trade community by getting involved with events. Find out how on the Fair Trade Wales website.

And remember that this doesn’t end after these two weeks. Wales was the first in the world to become a Fair Trade Nation. But the work goes on, and we will continue to stand with Jenipher and women producers around the world until she, and others, get what #SheDeserves.