Government backs Fairtrade expansion

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The UK government will back plans to expand Fairtrade over the next four years and bring the benefits of Fairtrade to twice as many producers, particularly in the poorest countries, through a partnership with labeling organisations.

Speaking at the Fairtrade Foundation’s annual Supporter Conference in King’s College in London, Alan Duncan, the International Development Minister, said: “Don’t scoff at Fairtrade. Those who sneer at Fairtrade and think it’s some sort of soppy, trendy lefty notion are completely wrong. It is a robust economic model which delivers direct benefits to some of the world’s poorest people.

“It injects fairness and sensible economics into business communities in poor countries, rewarding hard work with a fair price for their produce.

“I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to Fairtrade supporters in the UK and encourage them to keep up their excellent work.”

The Department for International Development’s support for Fairtrade was greeted with delight by campaigners representing the growing Fairtrade movement, which boasts 490 towns, 6,000 Fairtrade Faith groups; 5,000 registered schools in the Fairtrade Schools Scheme; and 127 Fairtrade universities and colleges.

“We appreciate greatly the government’s support for Fairtrade globally,” said Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. “Our aim is to continue to deliver on the Tipping the Balance strategy and our goal is to have by 2013 even more Fairtrade products on the shelves, and twice the number of farmers, workers and their families globally (more than 10m people) receiving the benefits of Fairtrade market.

“But let’s not forget that Fairtrade’s success is really down to the hundreds of campaigners who have worked tirelessly to get Fairtrade products in their local shops, cafes, restaurants, workplaces and schools. Come rain and shine, they are out in shopping centres and organising local events campaigning for trade justice.”

In addition to UK towns, the Fairtrade movement is now global with 843 towns in 19 countries including Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

Next month, the 500th Fairtrade Town will be announced at the end of a seven day bicycle ride through 11 Fairtrade Towns, kicking off on 31 October in Aberfeldy in Scotland and finishing on 1 November in Cardiff.

The winners of the annual Fairtrade Fortnight Awards for 2010, sponsored by the Co-operative Group, were announced at the conference. Overall winner was Warrington Fairtrade Steering Group. Other winners were: the award went to Fairtrade Knowsley (Most Imaginative Campaign);  the award went to Bovey Tracey Fairtrade Town Group (Best Media Campaign);  was won by Ullapool Fairtrade Group (Best Outreach and Networking);and; the Best Tea Activity to Hartlepool Fairtrade Town.

The theme for Fairtrade Fortnight 2011 (28 February-13 March) – Show off Your Label – was also unveiled at the event. It aims to get campaigners, consumers and retailers to show off their Fairtrade label with pride, since choosing products with the Fairtrade mark says a lot about a person’s lifestyle and values. Campaigners will also focus on Fairtrade cotton, which is celebrating it’s fifth anniversary, and plans are underway for hundreds of events up and down the country featuring Fairtrade bunting.