We’re asking for 1.5million steps for Fairtrade in 2012, one for every farmer and worker we aim to work with. Across 63 countries, there are people working to produce the Fairtrade products we enjoy.
There’s a person behind every Fairtrade product. Here’s just a few.
Conrad James, banana farmer, St Lucia
There are people in the Windward Islands who say Fairtrade has saved the islands’ banana industry. Conrad’s one of them.
He grows bananas on his five acre farm for export for the UK. He has seen firsthand how the islands’ economy has suffered under trade rules that made it harder for his bananas to keep their place on UK shelves against cheaper imports from Latin America. He believes people choosing Fairtrade do a great thing. ‘You help a community you don’t know… that’s marvellous.’ And Fairtrade has helped Conrad’s community.
The Fairtrade premium the farmers get for every box of bananas has been invested in buying fans for the local medical centre, to keep patients cool, and improvements to the local school.
Leah, flower farm worker, Kenya
It would be safe to say that Leah is house proud. She is one of the first workers at Panda Flowers in Kenya to own her own house. She beams with pride on her doorstep. ‘On my own, I would never have had the money to do this,’ she says. ‘It was my dream to build a house to call my own.’
The cost of rent and the difficulties of land ownership make housing a big worry for agricultural workers in developing countries. By using the Fairtrade premium, the workers at Panda could save up to buy small plots, and then build their houses.
Before, says Leah, ‘You are always fearing the landlord’s knock. But paying back on the loan on your house is more friendly’. The next step for Leah and the others is to save up to get electricity and water connected to their homes.
Laljibhai Narranbhai, cotton farmer, India
‘I did not get any education but I want my children to. Because of the Fairtrade price, I can send them to school.’ For Laljibhai, this is the most important improvement in his life since he started selling his cotton as Fairtrade.
As a cotton farmer he has to become a member of a farmer’s group in order to be able to get the Fairtrade price for his crop. This means he can share skills and equipment and farming tips with other members, and together they can work to get a better price for their cotton and new buyers.
The extra money from the Fairtrade Premium has been a real boost for their community in lots of ways, including funding solar street lamps, school books and uniforms for poorer families, and ways to save rainwater for farming.
Over Fairtrade Fortnight we’ll be hosting some visiting producers as they tour the UK with their stories of the difference the stable Fairtrade price and premium has made in their communities.