Swansea Fairtrade Fortnight
Do you think workers and producers should get a fair price for the products we eat? Fancy trying out some tasty eats? Swansea Fairtrade Fortnight is a celebration of all things Fair Trade and starts on 27th February running until 12th March. Join in the fun, watch performers and listen to fascinating speakers or even dress up as a banana! Or why not check out some of these stories about how some of our food is produced and how fair-trade even helps gold miners and helps produce fair footballs.
Swansea Fair Trade Forum and it’s hard working members are putting on a wide range of local events for Fairtrade Fortnight (27 February – 12 March).
This year, Fair Trade our asking people to get together and have a Fairtrade Break. They want to let people know that the farmers who grow our food across the world aren’t paid enough for their work to produce it. They often aren’t able to provide decent food, education or healthcare for their families. By making a small difference in our lives, buying Fairtrade makes a big difference in the lives of the people who produce our food.
Olivia is a Fairtrade coffee farmer and member of Kagera Co-operative Union (KCU), a group of around 60,000 producers in north-west Tanzania.
Farmers in Olivia’s region generally own small plots of land, with an average farm size of just 0.8 hectares. Coffee is the main cash crop, grown alongside small quantities of food crops, including matoke (green bananas), cassava, beans, yams, maize and vegetables. Some also keep livestock such as cattle, pigs, and chickens.
The region is characterised by poverty, with limited access to clean water, healthcare, and education. Farmers have invested their Fairtrade Premium in these areas, and in supporting farmers to improve the quality of their coffee so that they can attract a better price. In addition to farming her own coffee trees, Olivia is also employed as a field officer at KCU to support training.
‘There is general poverty in the region but with training, the farmers are able to rise above it. My job is to train others and help them not go hungry. If their crops can meet the specifications, the coffee gets good prices and they have a good livelihood.’
Earning enough to provide for their families is a constant balancing act for millions of smallholder farmers like Olivia. For many, cash crops like coffee provide part of their income. They also earn money from selling other food products locally and rely on income from family members.
Cash crops can provide a significant contribution to household incomes when a fair price is paid. However, over-reliance can also lead to food insecurity when crops fail, or the price paid doesn’t cover the costs of production.
Before Fairtrade, Olivia didn’t earn enough from coffee farming to support her family and faced tough choices every day to try and make ends meet.
‘There are times I have really struggled and have had to work extra hard. I had to juggle 24 hours a day when the children were younger to put food on the table. If I couldn’t feed my children this would encourage them to thieve so I can’t let that happen.’
After her husband passed away in 2003, Olivia got into debt trying to feed her family as well as pay her children’s school fees.
For those that may have missed it, this is kind of a big deal for farmers. #coopuk will buy 5 times more cocoa. https://t.co/yxwWRLpgoG
‘I needed to spend my money on my children’s education… I have debts because of this and I have not been able to afford a tin roof on my house.’
On top of ensuring at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price is paid to farmers (calculated to cover the average sustainable cost of production), working to improve the quality of their coffee is one-way Fairtrade supports farmers like Olivia to earn a better income.
‘With Fairtrade we have improved facilities here and enhanced quality and production – we couldn’t have achieved them without it.’
The Fairtrade Premium also eases the pressure on farmer incomes by investing in social projects, such as healthcare and education, which would otherwise cost money to access and often involve lots of travel.
Farmers can also invest in increasing efficiency and growing their businesses. Olivia’s co-operative needed essential infrastructure to connect farming communities and coffee production areas. KCU have invested Fairtrade Premium in roads and bridges, saving valuable time and expense for farmers in getting their coffee to market. The Fairtrade Premium has also been used to build and improve schools and health centres.
When farmers are able to process their raw commodity, they can capture more of the value of the final product. Thanks to people choosing Fairtrade coffee, KCU have even used Fairtrade Premium to help build their own instant coffee factory, the first in Tanzania.
‘My message to people in the UK is please buy more Fairtrade so you can keep remembering the farmers over here who grow the coffee.’
Events in the Swansea Fair Trade Fortnight range from a coffee morning at Oxfam in Castle St and Pontardawe Library, Traidcraft stands or stalls at Killay Library, St Mary’s Church in Clydach and Pontardawe Library, a Fairtrade Cake break at The Environment Centre and a ‘Bananas and Bards’ Fair Trade walk starting at the Oxfam shop.
The ‘Creating an Equal Future’ event at The Waterfront Museum will feature free fair trade samples, a diverse range of speakers, performers, and activities for all age.
Join the Bananas and Bards’ Walk as part of an International Festival of Fair Trade. More details of all the events below.
Find out more about local events and Fair Trade stockists in Swansea at Swansea Fair Trade Forum. The annual celebration happens across Wales and the UK.
Ben is a tea farmer. Although he is Fairtrade certified, Ben is not able to sell enough on Fairtrade terms to give his family the future he would like, as the market price for tea is so low. As a result, his son had to drop out of school and move away to work and he doesn’t earn enough to be able to send money back. Ben hopes for a brighter future for his daughter. But because of the cost of school fees, she still hasn’t been able to finish her schooling.
‘It has also been difficult to cover school fees. My daughter is 24 years old and still in Year 4 [usually for 16-year-olds]. It is the lack of funds that has delayed her education.’
In addition to infrastructure and community projects, farmers have invested their Fairtrade Premium in boosting productivity so they can earn more from their farms.
‘I have been a member since 2007. The access to subsidised fertiliser has resulted in the tea being greener and me growing more – 300-400 kg per month.’
Ben wants to improve his farm and grow more, but after buying food to feed his family, isn’t left with enough to buy new seedlings.
‘I encourage you to drink more tea from Malawi: from smallholders and on Fairtrade terms, for the betterment of us farmers.’
Fair Trade isn’t just about food production. There are Fair Trade gold mine co-operatives and even Fair Trade footballs!
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