In 1967 Martin Luther King Jnr said, “Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning you’ve depended on more than half the world”
Maybe this morning you enjoyed: coffee from Kenya, bananas from Colombia, cocoa from Cote d’Ivoire, tea from India, sugar from Malawi and juice from Brazilian oranges. Hopefully they were Fairtrade. These items can be obtained from local supermarkets and from our monthly Tradecraft stall. Try Geocrunch granola or Geomeusli, for example.
Thus fifty years on from Martin Luther’s famous speech, our lives are more closely entwined than ever. That is why it’s a scandal that the people who grow the food we take for granted can’t always feed their own families.
When you pay for a Fairtrade product you are not only paying a Fairtrade Minimum Price to the farmer but also providing a Fairtrade Social Premium which enables farmer co-operatives to invest in their future and improve food security.
For example, in coffee-growing communities there may not be enough food available for up to five months a year. It is so common that in Latin America the phenomenon has its own name los meses flacos (the thin months). It usually happens in the period between harvests, when the payment farmers received for the previous crop has run out. This can also coincide with higher local food prices and producers will still need to spend precious resources on agricultural inputs such as fertilizers for the next crop. It means families eat a basic diet of maize and beans if they are available, or parents skip meals altogether and children cannot concentrate at school because they are hungry.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti and during the ‘thin season’ farmers in central Nicaragua often rely on food programmes to feed their children. To tackle this, coffee co-operative COOMPROCOM has invested its Fairtrade Premium in making its community more food secure. One project is a revolving fund of quick loans for farmers to make emergency purchases of food. Another is a child nutrition project that encourages farmers to grow food crops (such as beans, rice, tomatoes and corn) and eat a wider variety of foods so that they are less reliant on buying food.
SIT DOWN FOR BREAKFAST – STAND UP FOR FARMERS
Information from the Fairtrade Foundation www.fairtrade.org.uk
Author: David Wiggs
I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.