Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fairtrade Fortnight

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 started on Wednesday with an event at Stormont Parliament, organised by the Fairtrade Belfast Committee and sponsored by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), Junior Ministers.

The ceremony was attended by Ministers, MLAs, Central and Local Government, Charities, Fairtrade Groups, Statutory Bodies and invited guests, including the main speakers: Robin Newton MLA, Junior Minister – OFMDFM, Professor Gerry McCormack, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Christopher Stange, Chair of Fairtrade Belfast and Consul of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The theme of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is the “Big Swap” whereby we are encouraging all sections of the population to swap their normal goods and produce to a Fairtrade variety. When consumers choose Fairtrade products, the price they pay covers the cost of sustainable production but also provides a premium that is invested in social, environmental and economic projects in developing nations.

In doing so, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers, primarily from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and improved terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

Dr Stange explained: “Fairtrade sales are currently £2.4 billion, assisting 562 producers across 3 continents in 60 different countries, particularly the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region. This translates into more than 1.5 million producers, about 7.5 million people, including dependants, who are benefiting directly from Fairtrade. More can be done regarding other towns, churches and schools seeking Fairtrade accreditation, as well as, central and local government leadership relating to procurement, including and/or expanding Fairtrade options, throughout Northern Ireland.

The event concluded by recognising the work of those primary schools who are championing Fairtrade across Belfast via the Primary School Fairtrade Poster Competition Awards. Fairtrade prizes were awarded through the generosity of the Co-operative and Oxfam Ireland.