"What on earth are you doing?" demanded a friend of mine on discovering his daughter, back home for the weekend, emptying the contents of his kitchen cupboards into the dustbin. "These arent Fairtrade," she said, "they have to go!"
Something similar has happened in our parish. In September 2005, St Marys Church signed a formal commitment to serve only Fairtrade coffee and tea on its premises; our parishs Fairtrade Certificate can be viewed in the church porch. And with more than half its constituent parishes already signed up, St Edmundsbury is now officially a Fairtrade Diocese
Christians have always been at the forefront of the Fairtrade movement. Traidcraft, with its fairly traded goods, was an early Christian pioneer in the field. Other groups sprang up, internationally, and there was a need to regulate the market. The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK arm of this, and their logo on any goods guarantees that they have been fairly traded.
So what is Fairtrade? It means that people in developing countries not only have a foothold in the world market, but are paid fair prices for their goods. They are also given credit, if required, to stabilise their business during poor harvests. Fairtrade promises a long-term relationship of partnership and co-operation, with good working conditions and no child labour. Included in the price is a small premium to be used in the growers community for projects of their own choice.
Does Fairtrade really make a difference? An emphatic YES! The Fairtrade Foundation estimates that it has been hugely beneficial to as many as five million farmers, workers and their families. The Oromia Coffee Co-operative in Ethiopia, for example, has 8,963 farmers who are Fairtrade certified, producing 3,000 tonnes of coffee a year.
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