Why buying Fairtrade food can help save the world

Updated on 10 May 2013 | 0 Comments

More than half of the world’s hungriest people are the farmers who produce food for the rest of the world. Frank Olok explains why the Fairtrade Foundation is trying to get Government, and consumers, to take note of this shocking statistic ahead of this weekend’s World Fair Trade Day.

This week the Fairtrade Foundation and the Co-Operative handed in a 70,000-name petition to Number 10, calling on the UK Government to use the upcoming G8 Summit to unlock greater support for smallholder farmers, in order to feed the world fairly and sustainably. 

The Foundation’s petition follows a five-point agenda issued in February, highlighting the interventions needed in order to fix a currently broken food system. Rebalancing the power in the global food system requires joint action, which is why Fairtrade Foundation is calling on governments, donors and businesses to make sure that all new initiatives and investments in agriculture include smallholders at the heart of any solutions.

Fairtrade makes a difference

Frank Olok, shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Ivan Lewis, shadow International Development Minister Rushanara AliAs the Coordinator at Fairtrade Malawi, I help to represent 14 Fairtrade producer organisations with a joint membership of 22,000 farmers. Despite these farmers, and millions more around the world just like them, growing most of the world’s food, they still struggle to make a sustainable living, get access to finance and improve their communities’ economic and social situation. But Fairtrade is helping to readdress that imbalance, by giving these farmers what is only fair and right – a fair price for their produce. Not only that, but they also receive a premium on their produce, which is spent in the community on things like health, education and basic needs like providing water pumps and electricity.

Buying Fairtrade can change someone’s life

Fairtrade farmerIf you buy Fairtrade certified coffee, instead of a non-certified coffee, you are helping the person who has produced those beans get a fair price for their work. And it’s not just coffee that makes a difference – Fairtrade certifies more than 4,000 products – many of which, like tea, sugar and nuts, come from Malawi, where I see first-hand the difference it makes – not only getting the farmers a fair price, but giving them greater access to finance and support too.

Everyday foods like tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate can all be bought on Fairtrade terms. Bananas are the UK’s favourite fruit, and one in every three in the UK is Fairtrade – that’s how easy it is to buy Fairtrade in the UK. And if you’re looking for something a bit different, you can buy Fairtrade certified dried fruit, ice-cream or even saffron. There's a full list of items on our website.

You have the power

Downing StreetThe Fairtrade Foundation handed in its petition to Downing Street for World Fair Trade Day, but there is a lot you can do too, including buying something you’ve not tried before. Consumers often forget how strong a message they can send to business through their buying habits. Shoppers can help change pricing, and by showing retailers they are serious about sustainable food chains by using the power of the purse.  

Frank Olok is the coordinator for the Fairtrade Malawi Network

Do you seek out Fairtrade products in the shops? Let us know in the comments below.

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