www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Mobilising for Fairtrade: from left, Lord Brett McLean, Anna Misterska, Mayor Alan Roberts and Jack Doherty (photo: Lesley Shareif).

Steering Hastings to Fairtrade status

A steering committee has been established to lead Hastings and St Leonards’ charge towards becoming a Fairtrade town. The mobilisation of Fairtrade forces in the town should be reflected in higher participation in next year’s, Fairtrade Fortnight, which will have a campaigning focus on bananas. HOT’s Nick Terdre reports.

Moves to secure Hastings and St Leonards the status of a Fairtrade Town, in line with neighbours such as Bexhill, Lewes and Rye, are in the hands of a steering committee set up at a recent meeting at Azur restaurant in St Leonards.

Volunteers for the committee, which is due to meet on 11 December, include Dawn Alba, Rosemary Goring, Lord Brett McLean, Monica Norley and Fiona Wright. Rosemary can bring previous experience to bear, having been involved in the same process in Lewes in the early 1990s. It is hoped that the committee will be able to take over the Hastings Fairtrade website from its founder, Stacey Lane, who is shortly departing for Devon.

Some 30 people attended the meeting, including a small contingent from the Bexhill Fairtrade Committee, who organised the event. There were representatives from the Inter-Faith Forum and a number of churches/belief groups – Quakers, Salvation Army, Unitarians – from Hastings Works, the World Development Movement and from the local council, Mayor Alan Roberts and Councillor Kim Forward.

Jack Doherty of Bexhill Fairtrade Committee presented a Fairtrade certificate to Brett in his capacity as consultant for Azur, acknowledging the restaurant’s commitment to using Fairtrade products. Its range now includes white wine, tea, coffee and sugar. The meeting facilities were also provided free of charge.

Anna Misterska, Fairtrade Foundation's community campaigns officer (photo: Lesley Shareif).

Encouragement for Hastings’ efforts to become a Fairtrade Town came from Anna Misterska, Fairtrade Foundation’s community campaigns officer, who reported that the influence of the international Fairtrade movement is continuing to grow rapidly. In 2012, there was a 16% increase in the number of Fairtrade certified producer organisations to 1,149. More than 1.3 million small farmers and workers in 70 countries sell their produce and products on Fairtrade terms.

This means that they receive a minimum price for their goods, which enables them to feed, clothe and educate their families. In addition to the minimum price, purchasers also pay a premium, which the producers decide how to spend; for example, in improving production facilities or building a school. Last year premiums totalled €80 million.

Focus on bananas

Anna also explained that the focus of Fairtrade Fortnight, running from 24 February to 9 March 2014, will be on bananas. Although the banana market is growing, it has become the focus of a damaging price war among supermarkets, whose ultimate victims are the producers who do not enjoy the security provided by Fairtrade certification. Colombian banana farmer, Foncho, will come over to the UK to spearhead the campaign.

There are some honourable exceptions among the supermarkets – the Coop, Sainsbury and Waitrose buy all their bananas on Fairtrade terms. Others have only a partial commitment to Fairtrade, as reflected in the fact that only one third of bananas sold in the UK are fairly traded.

The meeting was also addressed by Monica Norley, the founder of Hastings-based Visionary Soap Company, who pointed out that her products have a Fairtrade input of 60%, though the requirement is only 2%. The Fairtrade commitment has not been any impediment to creating a business that is competitive, has made money and created local jobs, she said. Monica also insists that women in the producing community from which her raw materials are sourced should participate in deciding how the premium is used.

Hastings Fairtrade website

Fairtrade Fortnight 2014

 

Posted 19:22 Friday, Nov 29, 2013 In: Campaigns

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