Rt Hon Daniel Zeichner MP and Cambridge pupils took part in a Fairtrade Break in Parliament to support farmers and workers from developing countries
On 28th February Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner and pupils from The Leys took part in a Fairtrade Break in Parliament being held to celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight, which is asking consumers to think about the farmers and workers in poor countries behind some of the UK’s favourite, every day grocery items.
(Photo: L-R Oliver, Bonnie, Jack and Ted from The Leys)
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fairtrade event helped to spread the campaign’s urgent message: ‘Don’t Feed Exploitation’, as it highlighted that smallholder farmers are responsible for providing the majority of the UK’s tea and coffee, yet 1 in 3 people in Kenya’s coffee and tea growing regions live in poverty; over 2 million children work in hazardous conditions in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; and the average cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire lives on less than 40p a day.
Guest speakers included International Development Minister Rory Stewart MP, a coffee farmer from Tanzania, campaigners from across the UK and students from The Leys Fairtrade group in Cambridge.
In total, 45 MPs from different political parties attended the event and met representatives from Fairtrade towns across all regions of the UK as well as coffee farmer Leonard Kachebonaho, who is one of the founders of the Fairtrade-certified co-operative Kaderes Peasants Development Plc (KPD).
Leonard Kachebonaho said: “Thank you all for supporting Fairtrade. Many people in my region live on less than $2 a day and they depend on money from coffee sales. Now we are in our 6th year since joining Fairtrade and we have been able to support fellow farmers with farming to improve the environment and focus on quality to make sure you are always getting the best from us. Through Fairtrade farmers have also been able to invest in social projects such as improving health facilities, water tanks and schools. A new local secondary school now has 187 girls attending out of 293 – so a lot of girls are getting a good education and that is thanks to you.”
Oliver, Bonnie, Jack and Ted, pupils from The Leys, spoke about the importance of telling the stories of Fairtrade producers in schools. They talked about their #WhosInYourBasket social media campaign to raise awareness of the people behind the products that are consumed on a daily basis. Their campaign can be followed on Twitter @LeysFairtrade and over the 40 days of Lent they will be showcasing 40 different Fairtrade producers from across the world.
Adam Gardner, Fairtrade Foundation Campaign Manager, said: “We can’t achieve all that we do without the support of people up and down the country who choose Fairtrade when they shop and continue to campaign for the rights of farmers from developing countries. They won’t stand for exploitation, and we’re delighted that so many of them came along to this event to speak to MPs about the importance of ensuring farmers and workers continue to receive fair prices and decent conditions. But perhaps most importantly, we all had the opportunity to hear from Leonard directly about the difference that we can all make, when we put Fairtrade in our break.”
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said: “It was fantastic to see energetic young people backing Fairtrade. I was really interested to hear about the work they’ve been doing to support the Fairtrade movement, and to stop the exploitation happening to farmers and workers around the world.”