Danusha – Nepal Charity Gig write-up by Alli Davies

April 25th began like a normal Saturday. Then we got the news that a major earthquake had struck Nepal and with that the world turned upside-down. Initially we were focussed on getting news about our team, but we also knew we had to do something to help. Our producers are all based in Nepal; one group in the south east and one in Kathmandu!

“What about a benefit gig?” I said to my co-director and friend Sue Lavender. “Go for it!” she replied, and 13 days later we found ourselves in a packed room above a pub in Whitley Bay, enjoying entertainment by local performers, a charity auction and a snack buffet. We were delighted that so many people responded so quickly. Everyone gave their services for free, and most of the buffet was donated by businesses in the area. A highlight of the evening was auctioning a dozen eggs for £65!

People came and gave in a spirit of community and generosity and we raised over £2500 for Oxfam’s relief effort. Ron Lodge, regional fundraising manager for Oxfam North said, “The amount you have raised is genuinely extraordinary, and the sheer effort, enthusiasm and passion behind your event in support of Nepal goes beyond a simple thank you. Yours is an incredible total galvanising your local networks but also local media and the wider community. It is by far and away the largest single donation for the appeal in the north region so far.”!!!

Our team survived the initial quake, though some of them experienced damage to their homes. They were all terrified and spent several nights sleeping outside in the rain. They had just moved back into their houses when the second quake struck on May 12th, and for them the terror begins afresh.

A major earthquake anywhere is bad news, but for a country with such under-developed infrastructure it is devastating. We are heart-broken at the situation that is unfolding in Nepal and will continue to do whatever we can to raise funds and to support our friends and colleagues who live there. One way you could help is by making orders from those suppliers working directly with producer groups in Nepal. Thank you. The picture below is not of Danusha producers but a very recent picture taken of some of the typical devastation wrought in the last few weeks.

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Dubachaur is almost completely destroyed. Camp set up in the ruin of this school. Picture from Mike Lavender in Nepal right now.

Posted in Fair Trade

Fairtrade Wonderland Artweeks – Fairtrade at St. Michael’s Oxford

We are delighted to feature here a great article written by Feng Ho, Artist in Residence at BAFTS’ shop, Fairtrade at St. Michael’s What an amazing way she has chosen of depicting some of the huge variety of fairly-traded products which are now available through these pieces of art. The “Fairtrade Wonderland”, part of the Artweeks exhibition, is running until the end of May. A shortened version of the below article can also be found online on the Oxford Mail website. The full list of products used in all 8 images (see Gallery) can be found here: Artweeks Labels 2015

Oxford Skyline

Oxford Skyline

Fairtrade Wonderland   Oxford Fairtrade Shop Artweeks Exhibition 

1st – 30th May 2015. Artweeks venue 205.

Fairtrade at St Michaels, St Michael at the North Gate, Cornmarket St, Oxford OX1 3EY  Open Mon – Sat 10 – 5pm

‘There’s more to fair trade than bananas, I’m astounded by the range & variety that Fair Trade has to offer’ Feng Ho, Fairtrade at St Michaels’ Artist In Residence.

For Artweeks 2015, Fairtrade at St Michaels will showcase photographs using fair trade products found within the shop. The images on display include a pair of rowing elephants, and a city skyline that has been recreated using stationery & soap!

Magdalen Bridge Oxford

Magdalen Bridge Oxford

On the creation process, Feng Ho says ‘These images were set up on my bedroom floor during my toddler’s nap time. I was in part inspired by scenes of Oxford – the dreaming spires, the Cotswolds, and rowers on the Thames. After raiding the shop’s extensive range of fair trade items, I would play around with different compositions.’

‘The depiction of a university city is apt given the opportunity for a better education allowed by the fair trade premium.  Most of us may feel disconnected from poverty and inequality, but that shouldn’t stop us from helping those in need through supporting fair trade.’

76 different suppliers from around the world provide Fairtrade at St Michael’s diverse range of products – from quirky ornaments to functional homeware, stationery to skincare, artisan jewellery to children’s toys and clothing, plus an extensive range of food.

About the images

City Skyline was made from: Bamboo rulers, bamboo and woven coasters, mango wood pencil pots, recycled newspaper pencils, wooden fans, wooden flute, money scrolls, olive oil soap, birthday candles, metal bell, Fair break chocolate bars, Divine chocolate, chocolate beanies, and nodding elephant. What products can you find in the pictures entitled “Magdalen Bridge”, “Cotswolds” and “River Thames”? Chocolate, knickers, glass, wooden spoons, raffia, jewellery boxes, gardening gloves, Geobars, biscuits, toiletry bag, dates, freekeh, scarves..the list is seemingly endless!

River Thames

River Thames

Cotswolds

Cotswolds

Posted in Fair Trade

Nepal earthquake tragedy

“Hundreds of thousands of people have suddenly been left without adequate food, water, shelter and medical care. They are understandably desperate. We need to act fast.” – Jane Cocking, Oxfam Humanitarian Director.

It is six days now since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Nepal near the capital city of Kathmandu; the worst to be experienced there for 80 years. More than 6,000 people have been killed, 14,000 injured, and billions of properties destroyed to rubble. Sadly, one or two of our own supplier members have lost or fear having lost producers and staff, and we are deeply saddened to hear this tragic news. We understand that some remote outlying villages cannot be reached, so figures could be much higher than this. Up to 90% of clinics and schools in some districts are also rendered unusable.

According to Jason Burke (The Guardian 1.5.2015) “three thousand people are still unaccounted for in the Sindhupalchowk district, and little is known about northern areas of the Gorkha district where about 10,000 live. Local officials fear widespread destruction.” It is estimated that at least $2bn will be needed to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings.

Picking through the rubble in Kathmandu, image courtesy of Liam Kelly

Picking through the rubble in Kathmandu, image courtesy of Liam Kelly

The Esther Benjamin Trust whose CEO Ian Kerr will be speaking at our Annual Conference in a few weeks, reports on their own efforts to reach children formerly in their care:

“Our staff are urgently trying to reach the 500 children that we earlier reunited with their families in Makwanpur district, to check they are safe. We are providing emergency help to 800 people in the remote village of Bharta, who have been made homeless by the earthquake. As more funds come in, we will extend our emergency efforts to other villages in extreme need. All 30 young adults on our youth programme in Kathmandu have been traced and are safe.”

It seems like aid is very slow to get through, is patchy, and some reports suggest that the Nepalese government’s bureaucracy in how the aid is distributed is not helping. StoptheTraffik also suggest that earthquake victims could be at risk of trafficking, as they wait for aid to come, and shelter against the elements. Thankfully, some of our members who work with suppliers in Nepal have acted promptly, and our “Member Resources” page lists many ways through which donations can be channelled. And there are glimmers of hope as a baby and a teenager have been pulled from the rubble days after the tragedy occurred.

However, it could take many painful months and years for the country to begin to recover. Let us hope that the aid starts moving quicker to provide shelter, water, food and medicines to the many many needy souls before disease takes hold.

Posted in Fair Trade

Running for glory..or to escape poverty? Why Kenyans (and Ethiopians) are such good Marathon Runners

It can’t have escaped your notice that the London Marathon took place yesterday; nor did it probably surprise you that the first three male runners home were all Kenyan: Eliud Kipchoge beat twice-winner Wilson Kipsang (2:o4:47) to the top spot by five seconds (2:04:42), and Dennis Kimetto followed soon after (2:05:50). Surprisingly, an Ethiopian female (as opposed to a Kenyan) won this year – Tigist Tufa in 2:23:22, comfortably beating Kenya’s two-time London winner Mary Keitany. Several reasons have been cited for both Kenyan and Ethiopian successes in running, but the real reason for their motivation is plain: to escape a life of grinding poverty.

Enthusiastic young runners at Iten, Kenya

Both Kenya and Ethiopia have plentiful running training camps for youngsters, set at 8-10,000 feet above sea level. Some say that the children who are fortunate to go to school in these countries often run there and back barefoot, which might help their natural gait. Certainly, training at very high altitude makes running much easier when competing at low altitude. A runner’s lungs have got used to performing well on air thin in oxygen. But many articles written around the time of the Olympic Games in London 2012 suggest that youngsters in both countries run simply because it could mean a better life for them. If they become champions (and it is one huge “IF”, as competition is fierce) they can help their family, friends and tribe financially. If, as most are, they are born into very poor families, excelling at running can mean big prize monies – the winners of this year’s London Marathon will get US $55,000 each (about £36,000). One article suggested that the average per capita income of a Kenyan is around US $2,000 (about £1300). Think how many mouths that would feed and for how long….

46% of Kenyans live below the poverty line. In Ethiopia, around 30% live in extreme poverty. With expectations and pressures from both family and community high, youngsters run to try and fulfil their dreams by excelling at training and getting good enough grades (if they are not too exhausted to fall behind with studies) to get an escape route out for eg a scholarship at an American University, and continued training as speedy athletes with an income. Both countries’ economies are dominated by less-than-reliable annual yields from agriculture – tea, coffee, wheat, corn, cereals and sugar cane – so becoming a successful international runner means earning enough to support families back home. This year’s female Ethiopian winner, Tigist Tufa, said something similar today: (London Marathon website)

“I want to help my immediate family financially, in different ways. There are also some children I know I would like to help financially. Then I’d like to buy a car as I don’t have one yet.”

In an article written by Claudia Hammond (BBC Magazine, Iten, 28/4/2012) entitled: Kenya’s Rift Valley, where everyone runs she wrote:

“In fact one athlete told me that the motivation to run your way out of poverty is so strong, that if Kenya were to become a rich country he believed it would stop producing such fast runners.”

Unfortunately, in both Kenya and Ethiopia, many talented runners will never earn a single penny from their running and if schooling has fallen behind – assuming they were attending in the first place – they are back to square one.

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A variety of Kenyan soapstone products

Thankfully, there are other ways of helping Kenyans and Ethiopians – and many more peoples from developing countries – to work their way out of poverty, by buying Fairtrade products from one of our BAFTS’ shops, located under “Member locations” on the map feature on this website, or listed on the “Resources” page. Kenya is fortunate enough to be home to beautiful Kisii soapstone, named after the Kisii tribe of Tabaka Hills in Western Kenya. It is often exported due to its excellent craftsmanship,  smooth texture and evocative African designs of wildlife and natural landscapes.

Ethiopia is sometimes referred to as the “Birthplace of Coffee”, producing such quality blends as Sidamo and Yirgacheffe (remember the subject matter of the 2006 film “Black Gold” http://blackgoldmovie.com/ where Tadesse Meskela fought to save his 74,000 struggling coffee farmers from bankruptcy, in an effort to gain a better price for some of the highest quality coffee beans on the international market? Well, his coffee farmers were Ethiopian). Sidamo is a major coffee growing region in southern Ethiopia, and Yirgacheffe is a small sub-region centered around a village of the same name. Ethiopian Yirgacheffes are spicy and fragrant and often rate as some of the best in the world. You could do a lot worse than buy these Fairtrade Ground Coffees.

So, next time you see Kenyan or Ethiopian runners winning high-profile International races, don’t be surprised, but remember the majority who don’t get successful and think about a Fairtrade purchase to give them a better deal too.

Posted in Fair Trade

Two years after Rana Plaza: reflections and actions

On 24 April 2013, 1133 people died when an unsafe garment factory building collapsed in the Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A further 2500 were injured. They were killed while working for familiar fashion brands in one of the many ‘accidents’ that plague the garment industry, in its pursuit of throwaway fashion with a low (monetary) price tag, but with an indelible, dreadfully high cost in human lives. According to reports from the time, workers were already afraid to enter, because cracks had been seen in the building structure, but were told by their bosses that they had to go to work.

This Friday, two years on, social media and campaign websites, especially those from http://fashionrevolution.org/ are prompting followers to remember the victims of Rana Plaza by asking: #WhoMadeMyClothes? BAFTS members have to show transparency in their supply chains, in accordance with the World Fair Trade Organisation Ten Principles of Fair Trade http://wfto.com/fair-trade/10-principles-fair-trade which embody such criteria as “Ensuring Good Working Conditions”, “Respect for the Environment” and “Transparency and Accountability”. It isn’t rocket science to work out that, if more companies embraced fair trade principles, such disasters would likely be reduced.

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Image from Fashion revolution website showing garment workers who make our clothes

But how much noise is actually being made in the everyday world, beyond committed ethical, fair trade brands, organisations, campaigners and supporters? It is fine to upload a selfie of clothes “inside-out” with the ubiquitous hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes? But does that really translate into tangible action and different purchasing habits from ordinary shoppers in the high street? Would waving a banner in discount fashion stores have any more effect? I worry that in a week’s time all will be forgotten.  Again.

The Fashion Revolution website (hyperlink above in the first paragraph) states:

“The true cost of the current fashion business model must not be forgotten: complacency and distraction means unless we stamp our resolve here and now, incidents such as Rana Plaza will be dismissed as an unfortunate reality of contemporary life.

We must not allow that to happen.

We want to use the power of fashion to inspire a permanent change in the fashion industry and reconnect the broken links in the supply chain. At the moment of purchase, most of us are unaware of the processes and impacts involved in the creation of a garment. We need to reconnect through a positive narrative, to understand that we aren’t just purchasing a garment or accessory, but a whole chain of value and relationships.”

Jo Salter, owner of the very aptly-named company “Where Does It Come From?” runs a fair trade fashion company producing kids’ clothes. She posted a blog a few days’ ago http://www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk/fashion-revolution-24-april-2015-encouraging-children-ask-made-clothes/ which sums up one very positive, ground roots approach: make sure our own children learn early to value clothes and ask questions about who made them and in what conditions.

So, education is the key; we need to educate consumers: the younger, the better. As campaigners for trade justice we can best influence consumers by showing them the real cost of their “bargain” purchases. “The True Cost” http://truecostmovie.com/ is a new cutting edge documentary directed by internationally recognised LA Director Andrew Morgan. Featuring interviews with leading fashion commentators including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva the documentary explores the often unseen impact of fashion on people and planet, and again poses the question, who really pays for my clothing?

“For too long now, we have failed to face the growing cost to both human beings, as well as the health of this planet that we call home. The film is this invitation to each of us and all of us to look past just the price tag, and begin acknowledging the many hearts and hands behind the things we wear.” Andrew Morgan, Director “The True Cost”

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Boys seek missing relatives after Rana Plaza disaster. The image which caused Andrew Morgan to reflect on the real cost of our clothes

“The True Cost” will be in select cinemas on Friday 29 May, as well as a worldwide on-line viewing party. The film will be translated into multiple languages, and will be available to rent or buy from the website. I for one have a note in my diary and await the film eagerly.

We need to get into the habit of checking where and how the clothes in shops are made. That way, we are preparing the next generation to keep the pressure for change alive. In the meantime, it is up to us. Whether your purchase is “worth it” depends on more than just the price.

Posted in Fair Trade

BAFTS’ member Best Years gets article published on EYD2015 website

It is great to work in collaboration with like-minded organisations. So, when WFTO-Europe (World Fair Trade Organisation, Europe) contacted BAFTS a few weeks ago to see if any of our members would like to send them some stories to be published on the European Year of Development 2015 website under specific monthly-themed headings, we ensured that members were made aware of the deadline, criteria and contact details as soon as possible. As WFTO-Europe pointed out, the best way to reach out to people is by telling the real stories of how the actions in the world change lives. Storytelling as a means of fostering identity, memory and action, is a key tool in achieving the EYD2015 objectives and fulfilling their motto “Our world, our dignity, our future.”

We are delighted that one BAFTS’ member Best Years has had two stories accepted. One for the month of April and another for the month of June. These stories appear on the European Year of Development website for that month as a result. The first one can be found here and tells the story of Bulbuli, an elderly Bangladeshi widow who has found some security and better quality of life in crocheting part-time for Pebble toys.

The monthly topics for the remaining months of the year are as follows:10357257_852299258156147_8129033894163277649_n

 April – Health

May – Peace and Security

June – Sustainable Growth, Decent Jobs and Businesses

July – Children and Youth

August – Humanitarian Aid

September – Demography and Migration

October – Food Security

November – Sustainable Development

December – Human Rights

Posted in Fair Trade

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FAIRTRADE MARKS

For the complete article go to Fairtrade International website. This a shortened version.

The FAIRTRADE Marks are the globally recognized symbols of the international Fairtrade system. When you buy products with any of the FAIRTRADE Marks, you support farmers and workers as they improve their lives and their communities. Products bearing these Marks meet the internationally-agreed social, environmental and economic Fairtrade Standards. The FAIRTRADE Marks are registered trademarks owned and licensed by Fairtrade International. For more information on the specific FAIRTRADE Mark found on your products, please see below.

The FAIRTRADE Mark

   

 

 

The FAIRTRADE Mark is recognized by consumers around the world as the leading social and sustainable development Mark. It inspires high trust in consumers around the world that a considered purchase improves the lives of people and communities in developing countries.

The FAIRTRADE Mark can be found on a wide range of products – numbering over 27,000 around the globe – including food and drinks, cotton and clothing, and even jewelry made from Fairtrade gold and other precious metals.

  • Single ingredient products – If you’re looking at a bag of Fairtrade coffee or a bunch of Fairtrade bananas with the FAIRTRADE Mark, 100% of the product meets the Fairtrade Standards.
  • Composite products – For products like cookies, ice cream and chocolate bars, all ingredients that can be sourced as Fairtrade must be Fairtrade. This is the ‘all that can be’ principle. The percentage of each Fairtrade ingredient must be displayed on the back of the pack. And at least 20% of the content must be Fairtrade certified. Many companies go above and beyond that.
  • Traceability – Most Fairtrade products are physically traceable. This is not required for cocoa, sugar, fruit juices and tea.

Products with the FAIRTRADE Mark are available in more than 120 countries. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, the Mark will also include the words ‘Max Havelaar’ below FAIRTRADE.

The FAIRTRADE Program Marks

           

If you see the FAIRTRADE Program Mark for cocoa, sugar or cotton, it means that the indicated commodity has been sourced as Fairtrade. This provides more options for consumers to support Fairtrade farmers through everyday shopping and greater sales opportunities for farmers.

The FAIRTRADE Program Marks represent the Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, which honour the way that different companies do business. Some companies source all that they can as Fairtrade.Some companies source all that they can as Fairtrade. Others want to source 10 percent, 30 percent or even all of their overall volumes of an individual ingredient on Fairtrade terms. This new program allows companies to commit to Fairtrade and source large volumes of individual Fairtrade ingredients.

With the introduction of the FAIRTRADE Program Marks, Fairtrade is innovating in our system to secure greater sales volumes for Fairtrade producers and provide more options for companies and consumers. The FAIRTRADE Program Mark will begin appearing on products in select international markets in early 2014.

Posted in Fair Trade

Best Years Ltd – Updated “Pebble” blog on the Sundarbans Pre-school

Fair Trade is all about improving the pay, working conditions, gender equality, hours, opportunities and lives of producers and their families in developing countries. Below is a recent wonderful example of how one of our suppliers, Best Years, has funded a pre-school in Bangladesh. Such a provision is relatively unheard of there and the children look really thrilled to be learning in a safe environment whilst their mothers work. The blog is from Samantha Morshed, founder and CEO of Pebble, who produce crochet, hand made, fair trade cotton toys, which Best Years distribute for them.

“Back on 8th December 2014, I wrote a blog showing you the opening of a new pre-school in the Sundarbans, funded by the customers of our UK distributor, Best Years Ltd. Liz and Gaynor were visiting Bangladesh from the UK and took the opportunity to open the school themselves while visiting the Hathay Bunano centres in that area.

Best Years School

Image: preschool in Sundarbans two months on

Two months since opening, the pre-school is now really thriving. The concept of a pre-school was entirely new to the people of this area. Traditionally in Bangladesh children do not go to school until they are 6 years and children who are younger tend to just run around the village unsupervised. Whilst the thought that little ones can be completely free to run around is nice on the one hand, on the other hand, drowning is the single biggest killer of under 5s in Bangladesh. It’s a statistic that surprises many. Most people imagine that dysentery or diseases which cause dehydration, like Cholera or Typhoid, would be the biggest killers but they are not. Bangladesh is a delta region and as well as 3 huge rivers running their way through it to the Bay of Bengal there are many thousands of smaller rivers and tributaries, as well as lakes and ponds where fish are cultivated. When you drive around the countryside in Bangladesh in the dry season, it looks almost like the whole country is a river bed and of course, during the monsoon, much of it is flooded.

So creating pre-schools alongside our rural production centres is not just about educating children and giving them a good start and a better chance of getting into school at 6 years, it is also about keeping them safe while their mummies are working.

 Best Years School

Image: children learning in the preschool

The children are all now aware of the routine of the pre-school and happily attend every day. Friday is the weekend in Bangladesh and so on Friday it is closed. There is no curriculum for pre-schools in Bangladesh, because the concept isn’t really known here, but through our other pre-schools we have learnt and put together a basic curriculum that works. Challenging enough that the children are learning and with lots of fun because they are still very young.

Best Years School

Image: Learning English letters in the pre-school

The children learn both English and Bangla letters. There is a long history of speaking English in Bangladesh, back before independence and whilst Bangladesh fought for its independence on the basis of the language movement and having Bangla as the primary language, rather than Urdu, it is generally accepted that English is very useful if you want to get a job in the city or go to University and these days with the IT industry growing rapidly, it is recognised as very useful for computer programmers. It was great for me, when I first came to Bangladesh, because so many people I met spoke some English and so it helped me a lot in communicating and in learning Bangla.

Best Years School

Image: preschool in the Sundarbans

It’s really a joy to see this little pre-school thriving and the children enjoying the opportunity it offers and of course, knowing that they are safe while their mummies work.

Best Years School

 Image: teaching the children

I hope you enjoy this update on this lovely new little pre-school. Thanks go to Best Years Ltd, the Pebble distributors for the UK, France, Scandinavia and Ireland for supporting this.

Posted in Fair Trade

Myakka opens first shop; awards for Kerala Crafts and Voyage Fairtrade

Fairtrade Fortnight is always jam-packed with lots of exciting and inspiring activities, events and awareness-raising campaigns up and down the country. We are proud of all our members’ achievements but do not have the time and space on the website to showcase them all. Here are two news items which we have been asked to share and we hope you enjoy reading about them. Well done to all who took part in a whole host of other events in your own areas!

First off, Myakka opened its first shop, bringing fair trade solid wood furniture, soft furnishings, lighting and home accessories to Guildford, after having successfully traded for many years through its dedicated mail order catalogues and website.

Founder and Director, Georgie Hopkins, explained: “This is a really exciting time for Myakka. We have a very different approach to fair trade; our products are design-led, covetable pieces in fresh, individual styles that are perfect for modern living. It is fantastic to be able to provide customers with an opportunity to see and touch products before they buy, particularly with the larger furniture items. ”

The furniture is made from sustainable hardwoods from properly run plantations, including sheesham, monkey pod and mango wood. There are hand-waxed ranges, or alternative finishes, including items for the living room, bedroom, hallway, dining room and office. The majority of the furniture is designed and made exclusively for Myakka, but some items have been made to fulfil customer demands eg space-saving bookshelves and space-making sideboards; a nest of tables for awkward corners and storage coffee tables. A wide selection of lamps, lights, candles and lanterns are also available alongside soft furnishings such as rugs, cushions and throws. Finishing touches are provided by mirrors, photos frames, wall hangings and tableware. For more information visit www.myakka.co.uk

Secondly, the South West Fairtrade Business Awards were held again towards the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, and two BAFTS’ members came up trumps. Christine Snow from Kerala Crafts was selected as Joint Winner in the Best Fairtrade retailer (Multiple products) category, and Sam Birtwistle from Voyage Fairtrade was one of several businesses selected in the coveted Gold category. Christine explains below:

“We were thrilled to be joint Winners of “Best Fairtrade Retailer – Multiple products” at these awards. This was one better than the Gold we received last year. The Annual Awards Ceremony took place at The Watershed, Bristol, on 6th March, and it was announced that applications for awards were up by over 40% this year.

Christine Snow with Award 6.3.15

Christine Snow (Kerala Crafts) with her Joint Best Fairtrade Retailer (Multiple Products) Certificate and Award 2015. Image from www.joncraig.co.uk

Speakers included: Liz Zeidler, Chair of Bristol Green Capital Partnership; Sophi Tranchell, Managing Director of Fairtrade leader, Divine Chocolate; Chris Pay, Head of Shared Interest Foundation; Laura Daniel of Aardman Animations (Aardman are working with Divine Chocolate on the Shaun the Sheep Easter Egg); and Angela del Socorro Zelaya Jarquin, coffee producer from Nicaragua. There were 8 categories for ‘Best Fairtrade':

Accommodation/conference centre; Cafe/restaurant; Office; Retailer – single product; Retailer – multiple products; University/college;  Advocate award; Best Fairtrade Business.

The Best Fairtrade Retailer of Multiple Products was the most hard fought of categories. The joint winners were ourselves, Bath based Kerala Crafts and Bristol based The Better Food Company. Chris Pay, Head of Shared Interest Foundation, who presented the engraved Bristol Blue Glass Award to Kerala Crafts said ‘The winner only sells fair trade goods, sourcing from some of the most disadvantaged communities in India thereby transforming the local economy, particularly the lives of women. They clearly communicate their fair trade ethos to customers and other retailers they provide goods to. They take part in local Fairtrade events and use every opportunity to promote fairtrade locally and nationally’.

Posted in Fair Trade

Hadeel Open Evening with Zaytoun and Palestinian Farmer 4.3.2015

It may only have been for a few hours, but Kathryn, our BAFTS’ Marketing and Membership Coordinator, could not resist a quick dash up to Edinburgh to attend the Hadeel Open Event which welcomed Zaytoun’s Palestinian Director Taysir Arbasi, and Palestinian olive and almond grower Mohammad Irsheid, to talk about how Fairtrade, the Fairtrade premium, and fairly-traded products (most, but not all of their products carry the FAIRTRADE Mark) are helping growers in Palestine survive on trade, not aid, and permitting glimpses of a future working with dignity.

Taysir pointed out that the Israelis want to keep the Palestinians dependent on aid, and distort the facts eg how long settlements have actually been there. He worries about the Settlers’ party getting voted in at the next election, and whether there will be more evacuations of Palestinians from their land. With the help of Fairtrade, the growers would rather stay on the land, and produce the highest quantities of quality products possible.

He introduced Mohammad Irsheid, from the Sir village Co-operative, in Jenin, and a member of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association who discussed problems caused by the separation wall, checkpoints preventing easy access to his family lands, and the incidents of olive trees being cut and burnt by the Israeli army and settlers. He did not speak English and had an interpreter. He was proud of growing olives, almonds and corn.  Thirteen other families worked alongside him. He was keen on organic production, explaining that all work was done by hand. He prided himself on the quality of their olive oil and explained that the Fairtrade premium was 2.5 shekels per every kilogram sold, with 1.5 shekels going back to the farmer, and the other to the co-operative.

Hadeel event in Edinburgh: L to R Translator, Mohammad Irsheid Canaan Fair Trade grower, Alistair MacLeod. Chair of Palcrafts and Hadeel Councils, Taysir Arbasi, Zaytoun Palestinian Director

He enthused about the interest-free loans which the PFTA provide, and the “Trees for Life” scheme which they run (please refer to their website for more detail). He told of them providing bursaries for their children to go to University and that they were going to develop a Research Centre for Organic Farming. Zaytoun had been one of the first companies to buy their products,  one of the biggest olive oil exporters, and the first company to have their olive oil certified with the FAIRTRADE Mark.

Despite great restrictions as to which family member got to tend their crops for a limited amount of hours (which seemed to be decided on a whim), the physical obstacle of the separation wall, the draining of water out of the West Bank, the increasing settlements, the cutting down of olive trees to enable further land confiscation by the Israelis, and the prohibition on using cameras and ‘phones, he was thankful for his lot: grateful to be a member of the PFTA, aware of the improvements which fair trade terms had brought, sad for those who hadn’t yet joined, and pleased that helpers who had come to Palestine had taken photographic evidence of the real situation. He was the youngest of the farmers and very grateful to visit Britain and have the opportunity to tell his story.

Posted in Fair Trade
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