With the UK's Fairtrade Fortnight kicking off from Monday 25 February until Sunday 10 March, the primary campaign for the UK Fairtrade movement also seeks to highlight challenges experienced by third-world farmers faced with poverty, child labor and deforestation, such as the exploitation of West African cocoa farmers.
The Fairtrade Foundation is also celebrating 25 years of Fairtrade in the UK and the 2019 Fairtrade Fortnight will be a multi-faceted, celebrity-fronted campaign calling on the British public to support a living income for some of the world’s most impoverished farmers and workers around the world.
"Over 90 percent of British people recognize the Fairtrade Mark, and during Fairtrade Fortnight the Foundation will be supported by the wide network of campaigners, chefs, on strengthening, and businesses to shine a light on the challenges faced by farmers and workers who produce the things we love to eat, drink and wear," the Fairtrade Foundation said in a release.
"Fairtrade Fortnight 2019 will go even further than before and call on the British public not to feed exploitation. Fairtrade reveals that without a living income basic human rights like decent food, accommodation and schooling will not be achievable. The average living income for a cocoa farmer is £1.86* a day, yet what they earn from cocoa typically falls far short of that (Based on Ivory Coast incomes, Fairtrade, and True Price, 2018. *Price calculated based on exchange rates on time of writing].
"Incomes are low and uncertain, that’s why Fairtrade Fortnight 2019 focuses on the women who grow the cocoa for our chocolate treats with a new 'She Deserves a Living Income' campaign. Fairtrade will highlight some of the things many of us take for granted, such as education, housing, and healthcare, that a living income can provide."
Last year’s campaign saw more than 6,000 Fairtrade events being held across the country, with the UK’s leading retailers supporting its call to action in store and online.
Fairtrade is the most widely recognized ethical label in the world and one that has paved a more conscious way of shopping since it started more than 22 years ago. It currently works with 1.6 million farmers and workers across 74 developing countries.
And in February there was good news for the Fairtrade Premium after a study commissioned by global fairtrade group Fairtrade International found that Fairtrade farmers and workers have earned well more than half a billion euros in Fairtrade Premium funds in the past five years alone.
"School scholarships. A processing plant. A medical center. A factory to produce biofertilizers. These are just some of the investments that researchers explored as part of a study we commissioned to look more deeply at the Fairtrade Premium and what it means to farmers and workers," Fairtrade International said.
The French research institute LISIS analyzed data on Fairtrade Premium and did a deeper dive with five Fairtrade certified producer organizations through site visits, interviews, and workshops with organization management, farmers, and workers. The Fairtrade certified organizations included both farmer cooperatives and plantations and spanned a range of products in Africa and Latin America: a coffee/cocoa small-scale producer organization (SPO) in Peru, a union of cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire, a banana SPO in Ecuador, a banana SPO in Peru, and a flower plantation in Kenya.
Between 2011 and 2016, organizations chose to spend 52 percent of their funds on services for farmers and workers, which include things like direct cash payments, as well as agricultural tools, fertilizer or loans. School scholarships and health care services were some of the highest valued Premium projects.
Another 35 percent of Fairtrade Premium funds were spent to strengthen farmer cooperatives themselves, including building processing facilities, paying office costs, financing debt and conducting training for management and employees of the cooperative. Nine percent of Premium funds were spent on community projects such as health and education infrastructure, water and sanitation, or community environmental projects.