Fairtrade Fortnight set to support key communities including cocoa farmers
The next annual Fairtrade Fortnight (21st February-6th March 2022) is set to be a show of support for farming communities, including those within the cocoa sector, in tackling the climate crisis, writes Neill Barston.
As the international movement asserted, the COP26 event did not deliver sufficient changes needed to stay within 1.5 degree temperature rises that scientists have said is required to avert major environmental damage, nor did it definitively earmark finance directly to agricultural workers considered as being on the frontline of the crisis.
However, after labelling the climate summit as ‘more of a cop out,’ Fairtrade Foundation said it believed there is still hope with combined and sustained action on the issue.
Consequently, Fairtrade Fortnight is seen as an opportunity for individuals, communities, and businesses around country to stand with farmers in low-income countries like Honduras and Uganda who are impacted daily by climate change. Together, by keeping the pressure on government and businesses, we can all ensure farmers benefit from fairer prices, fairer trading practices and the resources needed for tackling the climate emergency.
Fairtrade’s Choose the World You Want Festival will return for a second year and features a series of virtual events designed to engage, inform and educate people around the urgent message of Fairtrade and climate change, the future of our food and those who produce it. The online initiative will bring the movement together and feature panel discussions, performances, workshops and collaborations between the Fairtrade Foundation and retailers, chefs and high-profile names in the world of food and sustainability.
As the global movement noted, the climate crisis is the biggest threat to the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers and agricultural workers in low-income countries worldwide.
Without a fairer income, farmers and workers are unable to invest in the types of mitigation and adaptation techniques needed to protect the environment, and their businesses. This represents a vicious cycle of poverty in which steps towards environmental protection and decarbonisation are likely to be beyond the reach for those who aren’t even able to earn a living income because the price they receive for their produce is far too low. COP26 fell short of what farmers and workers need but together we can still make a difference.
Nilufar Verjee, Director of Public Engagement at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: ‘We are all facing an existential planetary threat and politicians are still not moving fast enough to stand a chance of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees. Current levels of global heating are already disastrous for the farmers and workers who grow our food – they need the cash to adapt to new ways of farming. The life support is that we have another chance with COP27 in 2022 for world leaders to tackle the climate crisis and secure finance, fast.
‘Poverty and environmental damage in our food supply chains will not end until exploited farmers are paid fairly, have the power to make their own choices and to plan for the future. Only then will they be able to effectively fight the impacts of the climate crisis. This also matters to UK conscious consumers and businesses. Climate change, and the ability of farmers to grow their produce, is also threatening the survival and sustainability of supply chains behind some of the UK’s best-loved imports, such as coffee, cocoa and bananas.’
Mr Kouamé N’dri Benjamin-Francklin, a cocoa farmer from Côte D’Ivoire and Fairtrade Africa vice-chair board member, says financial support is a vital element of ensuring that farmers in low income nations have the tools they need to tackle the increasingly destructive impacts of the climate crisis: ‘If we carry on planting when we have always done before, when there is no rain and it is so hot, whatever we try to grow is destroyed. Then there is nothing to harvest. That has been happening now for years and production has massively decreased. Because of that, our incomes have massively decreased.
Mr Kouamé who attended COP26 as part of Fairtrade’s farmer delegation, (see our exclusive video with him here). added: ‘What is more, the little that we can sell isn’t paid at the price it should be paid. For example, take cocoa. Cocoa farmers only earn 3% of the price of a chocolate bar. As a person responsible for farmers, it is really sad. Being a farmer shouldn’t be a route to poverty.’
Each year, thousands of schools, organisations and communities nationwide play a key role in promoting Fairtrade Fortnight through their own campaigns, events and materials, in order to help raise awareness of the link between trade and poverty. The Fairtrade Foundation hopes people will engage with its fortnight campaign once again this year, as part of their ongoing efforts to protect people and planet.
As valued members of the movement, thousands of Fairtrade towns, villages, schools and churches are proud to use its products, including tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits, and to supporting Fairtrade as a key solution for making trade fairer for those in lower-income countries.
It is committed to fighting the climate crisis, and its standards encourage producers to protect the environment by improving soil, planting trees, conserving water and avoiding pesticides, while the organisation’s programmes include climate academies for farmers to share best practice. At the same time, Fairtrade makes training available to producers so that they can use the latest agricultural methods, such as intercropping and shade-grown coffee to adapt to conditions. For more details on its fortnight event, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk/fortnight