Good Luck Goldie

goldieGood luck to Goldie Sayers, Cambridge athlete, GB Team Captain and Fairtrade supporter, who is competing in the javelin in the European Championships right now.  You can follow her progress on the BBC here

And you can read about her visit to Fairtrade producers in South Africa here.


Fairtrade: does it work?

Recently, reports have appeared in the media question whether Fairtrade actually helps the poorest rural people in developing countries.  These reports have been prompted by research by the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the university of London.  The SOAS report is called ‘Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction (FTEPR) in Ethiopia and Uganda’.  Fairtrade Foundation has issued the following response:

The Fairtrade Foundation welcomes the underlying research for this report, which included interviews with 1,700 workers in areas where both Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade smallholders and plantations were operating across the tea, coffee and flower sectors in Ethiopia and Uganda. We will study it with a view to improving our work in those two countries.

Fairtrade has always recognised that agricultural labourers are extremely poor, and we agree that more needs to be done to help them.

Speaking for the Fairtrade Foundation, CEO Michael Gidney said, “We welcome this focus on the low wages that persist among too many agricultural workers, particularly those who carry out informal work and who are very hard to reach.  In Fairtrade we are committed to playing our part in supporting all workers – in the past year for example we have substantially strengthened our Hired Labour standards and are making real progress on aspects such as Living Wage.”

However, the Foundation believes there are significant flaws in this study and that it is wrong to state that Fairtrade does not improve the lives of the poor.  Many independent academic studies have shown that Fairtrade does benefit poor farmers and workers supplying international markets.

In particular, the SOAS study failed to find Fairtrade certified farms for half of its research sites (Table 2:1, page 31), making a balanced comparison between Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade systems impossible.  For example, researchers looked at only one of five Fairtrade certified smallholder tea producer organisations in Uganda.  Many of these are selling higher proportions of their tea on Fairtrade terms – a study of a different organisation might well have reached very different conclusions.

“It is a shame that the report does not acknowledge a critical problem: that where farmers themselves have low levels of Fairtrade sales they are limited in the additional benefits they can pass on to workers, especially seasonal labour,” Michael Gidney continued.

The study did not assess how much each certified farmer organisation was selling on Fairtrade terms, nor consequently the amount of Fairtrade premium each received for investment in community projects such as health centres and housing.

In addition, the large “Fairtrade” flower farm in Ethiopia cited by this report left Fairtrade in 2011, whilst one of the “non-Fairtrade” flower farms studied in the report, which has some of the best wage conditions in the country,  joined Fairtrade in 2012. As a result , in 2012 alone, its first year of certification, this farm has earned several hundred thousand pounds in additional Fairtrade premiums for investment in workers’ own projects to improve their own lives and their wider community.

The report indicates that one major factor clearly affecting the lives of agricultural workers is the size of the farm on which they are employed, and that many other differences are down to “highly idiosyncratic” factors which vary from locality to locality. The report concludes (page 120): “FTEPR cannot make direct causal claims from its findings, such as that ‘Fairtrade causes low wages’, for example.”

“We know that Fairtrade makes a difference to the lives of 1.4 million farmers and workers, and many other studies have backed this up,” concludes Michael Gidney. “When people reach for a product with the FAIRTRADE Mark, they are making a difference in the lives of the people who grew them.  If we want to have an even greater impact, we need more of those customers – and more companies and donors – to back Fairtrade and campaign for trade justice.”


Eastern Region Fairtrade Conference: Hold the date!

The Eastern region Fairtrade conference will be held on Saturday 18th October at the University of Bedfordshire’s campus in Luton. It promises to be an interesting, information active and enjoyable event and a great chance to meet other people who share an interest in Fairtrade. More details later….

Fairtrade at the Big Weekend!




Sadly, we have had to cancel our stall at the Big Weekend. It will be a great event anyway, so we hope everyone enjoys the day.



The Cambridge City Fairtrade Group are proud to be hosting a stall at the Big Weekend Food Fair on Parker’s Piece this Saturday (5th July)

Please pop along and visit the stall for Fairtrade snacks, including chocolate.  We will also have stock of Ubuntu Cola, so if you’ve not tried Fairtrade cola before, Saturday is your chance.

In addition, there will be a range of other stall holders offering top quality local produce, and we are pleased that the organisers have asked for all tea, coffee and chocolate to be Fairtrade wherever possible.

On Twitter, look for Ubuntu Cola – @NatBevFruitHit and @Big WeekendFood for the event itself

big weekend

Is there a global cocoa crisis on the horizon?

With Easter Eggs still lurking in the cupboards of many UK homes, there has been a recent rash of articles in the press warning of a global cocoa crisis. This could result in a shortage of chocolate, and smaller easter eggs next year, we are told.

easter eggs
The increasing worldwide demand for chocolate is said to be the cause, with some articles explicitly blaming Chinese people’s growing taste for chocolate.  For example, the Times ran with the headline “Chinese chocoholics cause cocoa crisis”. This seems an extraordinary position to take, particularly as they also claim that the typical British child receives eight Easter eggs.
However, there is an interesting point about the increase in “Western” tastes across the world resulting in a growing homogenisation of consumption patterns and increasing demand for limited crops, including cocoa and coffee.
The Fairtrade Foundation emphasise supply issues surrounding cocoa. Barbara Crowther, policy and public affairs director at the Fair Trade Foundation, says: “We need to look behind the causes of this low supply.
“If you go to the cocoa farms there are farmers still living on less than $2 a day. Many communities don’t have electricity or clean, pumped water.
“Life is hard and young people are thinking ‘I don’t want to be a cocoa farmer, I would rather move to the city for a better life’.
There is an article about the possible cocoa crisis in the Daily Express, through this link.

You can read the Fairtrade Foundation’s report on cocoa here.

Fairtrade Chocolate in Lion Yard!!

We will be in Lion Yard today (19 April), celebrating Easter, Fairtrade and chocolate! Why not join us?!?

How can Fairtrade help eliminate child labour?

Producer groups need to be directly engaged if child labour is to be addressed and eliminated, according to the Fairtrade Foundation. A recent article in the Guardian explores this theme, and steps the Fairtrade movement has taken recently to empower local groups within the governance of Fairtrade International.


You can read the article here




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