Fairtrade Fortnight: Consumers urged to 'stand up for farmers' as annual campaign launches

Sales of Fairtrade products increased in volume last year, following an unprecedented slump in 2014

Siobhan Norton
Monday 29 February 2016 01:02
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Workers harvest Fairtrade coffee at the Sidama Coffee Farmers Co-operative in Ethiopia
Workers harvest Fairtrade coffee at the Sidama Coffee Farmers Co-operative in Ethiopia

Sales of Fairtrade products increased in volume last year, with tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas all getting a boost. This follows a slump in sales the previous year for the first time in the organisation’s 21-year history.

Fairtrade wine sales increased by 17 per cent, and Fairtrade flowers saw a 14 per cent jump.

The release of the figures coincides with the launch today of the organisation’s annual Fairtrade Fortnight. This year’s theme is “Sit Down for Breakfast, Stand Up for Farmers”, with events around the country to highlight the difficulty in getting enough food to eat by millions of smallholder farmers and workers supplying our breakfast tables.

In a new report released, Fairtrade says periods of hunger are so acute for many farmers they have acquired their own names for it – los meses flacos (the thin months) in Nicaragua, or chulga (food suffering) in Ethiopia. More than 30 per cent of children in the world’s main tea-producing areas are malnourished, and 80 per cent of cocoa farmers in Cote D’Ivoire live on less than 40p a day.

“It’s outrageous that even in this day and age, when we know so much about the world, the people we rely on for our food are themselves going hungry,” Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, told i. “Customers are far more discerning about the quality of their food nowadays – but we also need them to question where it is coming from.”

Mr Gidney cautioned that while the growth was encouraging, there was plenty still to be done: “We’re beginning to see what can really be achieved, but people mustn’t believe that the job is done. Farmers are going hungry because we are not paying the true environmental and social cost of our food.”

Fairtrade Fortnight runs until 13 March.

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