Today secondary school students and campaigners from West Yorkshire will be joined by Colombian banana farmer to meet MPs and the International Development Minister Desmond Swayne at the launch of the first All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fairtrade.
The cross party group of MPs will be joined by students from Honley High School, campaigners from Holme Valley Fairtrade and the Co-operative retailer in a special breakfast event to mark Fairtrade Fortnight (29 February – 13 March). This year’s two week campaign is highlighting the hunger faced by millions of farmers in developing countries who, despite working hard to grow some of the UK’s favourite foods, do not earn enough to know where their next meal is coming from.
International Development Minister Desmond Swayne MP, said:
“Nearly two thirds of people living in extreme poverty depend on smallholder farming to get by. UK support is helping them farm more effectively, prevent diseases and cope with the effects of climate change. Just as importantly, we are making sure they can get their goods to market and get a fair price for them when they do.
“This Fairtrade Fortnight is a timely reminder of just where the food on our dining table comes from and the role that governments, businesses and consumers have to play in making sure that farmers get a fair deal for what they grow. When they do, they can not only earn an income, feed their families and send their children to school, but can also help strengthen their country’s economy – which is firmly in Britain’s national interest. In the final analysis Fairtrade is all about jobs.”
The APPG, has been established after campaigners in Holmfirth approached local MPs Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley and Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax and asked if they could do more to highlight the issues facing farmers in developing countries.
Helen Robinson, a local businesswoman and campaigner from Holme Valley Fairtrade, said: “I knew my local MPs are both committed supporters of Fairtrade in our community, which is great, but we felt they could do more on a national scale. So I’m thrilled that Jason and Holly were equally enthusiastic and will work together to get Fairtrade higher on the agenda in Parliament.
“I believe we can all change the world through little steps and Fairtrade can engage the whole community in this. The students in particular are really excited to be visiting Parliament and meeting the Minister. This is a really powerful way of connecting young people to democracy.”
Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax and Co-Chair of the APPG said: “It is exciting to be launching this important new group in Parliament. MPs from across the political spectrum have come together to show their support for Fairtrade and to discuss how we can work together to promote it in the future.”
Jason McCartney, Conservative MP for Colne Valley and Co-Chair of the APPG said: “I am proud to be launching the newly formed Fairtrade APPG during Fairtrade Fortnight. The APPG will act as a forum to promote Fairtrade here in Parliament and across the nation. I’m proud that our many supporters include local Fairtrade organisations such as Holme Valley Fairtrade from my constituency.”
The campaigners will be joined by banana farmer Julio Mercado Cantillo, 57, who has travelled from Colombia for Fairtrade Fortnight to tell the UK public how he has benefitted from stable prices. Julio said: “When we began growing bananas, it was tough. Before Fairtrade, there were days we only had one meal a day. There wasn’t enough. Since we joined, everything has changed.”
Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Communities have always driven the Fairtrade movement, by using the pound in their pockets to make a positive change and by campaigning for better, fairer and more sustainable trade regimes enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty.
“This Fairtrade Fortnight, as thousands of communities stand in solidarity with the farmers who grow our breakfast products, I’m delighted that the people of Holme Valley have shown that action can lead to change. Establishing this APPG is a huge achievement and provides an opportunity for the public, parliamentarians and businesses to work together and make a difference to the lives of farmers around the world.”
The event is being supported by the Co-operative, which has provided a Fairtrade breakfast and is sharing the experiences of farmers through their online growingstories.coop project.
Brad Hill, Strategy Manager at the Co-op said: “Over 20 years the Co-op has led the way on Fairtrade and our commitment to own brand development such as converting entire categories to Fairtrade – sugar, bananas, coffee, tea, chocolate bars and even cotton wool for example, has continued to deliver significant benefits to farmers and workers.
“Today we are the largest convenience retailer for Fairtrade in the world and our customers and members have ploughed over £30 million in Fairtrade premiums to support our Fairtrade communities. Our commitment remains as strong as ever and our ‘Growing Stories’ website is a unique opportunity for Fairtrade customers to hear directly from some of the people who supply the products they enjoy and of the benefits that Fairtrade delivers. We are delighted to support this event as part of our wider long term support for Fairtrade and encourage those who want to learn more about how they can change lives by making the Fairtrade choice, to explore our website and engage with Fairtrade communities across the world.”
During the launch, Holme Valley Fairtrade have also organised for an exhibition of ‘Cotton on to Fairtrade’ celebrity signed bags to be displayed.
Notes to Editors
The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label appears on products to show that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal from trade. Today, more than 1.5 million people – farmers and workers – across more than 74 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
Over 5,000 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts, wines, ales, rum, confectionery, muesli, cereal bars, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cotton wool, olive oil, gold, silver and platinum.
Awareness of the FAIRTRADE Mark continues to be high in 2014, at a level of 78%.
Holme Valley Fairtrade are also organising a ‘Wake up to Fairtrade’ breakfast is on Saturday 5th March at Holmfirth Market Hall also.
Requests for Michael Gidney, CEO Fairtrade, farmers and Holme Valley campaigners or regarding the APPG can be directed to Susannah Henty, Media and PR Manager, +44 (0)20 7440 8597, Mobile: +44 (0)7766 504947 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
Requests for the Minister should be directed to the DFID Press Office on +44 (0) 20 7023 0600 or at PressOffice@dfid.gov.uk.