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Fairtrade Fortnight on Paisley Campus

The SAUWS Environment team bring Fairtrade Fortnight to Paisley Campus 5th March

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How often do we get up in the morning and have a cup of tea or coffee at breakfast? Maybe put some banana in our cereal or porridge, or have some chocolate without for lunch without thinking exactly where these products come from? What sacrifice and work has been put into these products before the reach our homes?

We are currently halfway through Fairtrade Fortnight. A worldwide event held annually to raise awareness and support Fairtrade products but what is Fairtrade and what exactly does it represent?

The Fairtrade foundation is an organisation set up to help give the farmers and workers to get a fair pay for the products they produce which gives them a chance to improve their position and have more control over their lives. Small scale farmers producing items such as bananas, coffee, rice and cotton benefit by being able to sell their products at a fair rate. Workers benefit as Fairtrade protects their income and working conditions.  The organisation independently certifies products that have been made under good working conditions and have been purchased at a fair price from the producer. 

What does all that mean then? What does the Fairtrade stamp mean?

The stamp certifies that a minimum price is paid to Fairtrade producers that covers their costs of production. In the last ten years supermarkets have halved the price of bananas, and this has pushed some producers into poverty barely covering the costs of producing the fruit. With this Fairtrade minimum price set there is no need for farmers to suffer in this way.

A Fairtrade premium is set to be paid to the producers. This premium is a cash sum on top of the price paid for the produce to invest in the community which surrounds these producers. This money is invested according to the vote of the farmers and workers. Who are likely to know where money would be best invested in their community. This has led to improvements in roads, schools being build to educate children and new farming equipment to help increase production.

Workers on farms gain rights under Fairtrade certification as well, some of these include better health and safety regulations, freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. This also eradicates the use of child labour on these farms, which a large scale problem created by producers unable to pay fairly. These workers are also able to join unions which ensure a reasonable basic rate of pay to support and feed their families.

Producers in Fairtrade co-operatives always get a democratic say in decisions. This co-ownership allows farmers and workers to be represented on the board to make decisions on minimum prices, premium rates, future investment and standards.

In spite of this progress, still only one in three bananas sold in our supermarkets is Fairtrade. Our aim for this year is to push those statistics up. As part of Fairtrade Fortnight a petition has been launched called ‘Stick with Foncho




to make the majority of bananas Fairtrade certified. Foncho is a banana farmer from Columbia. His livelihood depends on bananas. He has seen firsthand the effects of supermarkets driving down prices pushing farmers into poverty and out of business. He has campaigned to raise awareness and we as a team are out to support this.

We  spoke to 30 people on our UWS Paisley Campus and found out positively that 93% of them had heard of Fairtrade and had an idea what it stood for and 77%  of them purposely buying Fairtrade products regularly such as coffee, chocolate, bananas and other fruits.

We also tried to explain some of the harsh realities of the producer’s lives and what Fairtrade foundation is doing to help solve this. The students all reacted positively with 100% of them agreeing they would be making an effort to buy Fairtrade products in future. This is a small scale survey but it shows when people are made aware of what is really happening perceptions can be changed. This Fairtrade fortnight SAUWS Environment Team is running an event on Paisley campus March 5th in D Block to support this campaign by giving everyone an opportunity to sign petitions and sample Fairtrade Produce for free. If you are in the area come along and join us. You will be made welcome.


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