I am looking at a packet of tea on the back of which are some photos showing tea-pickers in Tanzania and India, some of the 20 million people in the developing world who rely on tea for their livelihoods.
I wonder how many of us think about these people working and earning a living while we enjoy a nice cup of tea. Here’s another packet, this time of muesli and on the back we see some of the farmers who grow the items that make up this cereal: Salman Ali an almond farmer from Pakistan, Pamela van Rooyen a grape-picker from South Africa and Dalbir Singh a rice farmer from India. There is not much that we buy in our shops that highlights the people on whom we rely to eat and drink and enjoy life, many of them thousands of miles away.
These are fairtrade packets which we can buy in many shops and stores, giving special emphasis to where our food comes from and making sure that these producers get a fair deal.
Says Salman: “If fairtrade were not buying directly from us we would probably be getting only half of what we receive now”.
Says Pamela: “The extra income from fairtrade means I can buy food and clothes for my daughter”.
Says Dalbir: “The middle-man gave the minimum price. Today I am getting a better one”.
Fairtrade stands for changing the way trade works, through fair prices and better working conditions and to offer a more stable future for some of the farming communities in the poorer parts of the world. Fairtrade is about the people producing many things for us, from bananas and tea to cotton and shampoo. Fairtrade is putting one and half million farmers and their workers in greater control of their lives.
Marlene, a coffee farmer from Nicaragua says, “Our standard of living has improved. . . it is not the same, everything is better . . . the life of a producer is hard but for me in the eight years that I have been a member of our fairtrade co-operative I have felt the difference, and my life and the life of my children has changed. It is with the support of fairtrade that we have been improving”.
We have been selling fairtrade products in South Leeds for almost 10 years and we average between three and four thousand pounds-worth of sales each year to local churches and other groups. It is always good to see our customers showing enthusiasm for what we are selling and telling us about other fairtrade goods that they can buy in local supermarkets. Fairtrade tries to make a difference to people who work hard so that we can consume their produce, making a real difference to their lives, to their families and to their local communities.
This post was written by Barry Parker using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.