Taking small steps for Fairtrade

“Taking small steps for Fairtrade”, Garstang Fairtrade Steering Group is asking schools, churches, Guides and Scouts, etcetera, to draw round their foot on to a piece of card or paper and to decorate the footmark to show how they intend to support Fairtrade in 2012. The steps will be displayed in Garstang Town Centre during Fairtrade Fortnight to draw attention to the importance of Fairtrade in the World’s First Fairtrade Town.

Taking a giant leap for Leap Year, on Wednesday February 29th, a Ugandan coffee farmer and a Malian cotton producer will visit Garstang. Fairtrade coffee-farmer Jenipher Wetkama visits St Thomas’ Primary School and Fairtrade cotton producer Massatoma Mounkoro will visit Myerscough College. They will join members of the Garstang Fairtrade Steering Group at the FIG Tree for an informal lunch and a chance for Garstonians to meet them.

Jenipher , vice-chairperson of Gumutondo Co-operative directors board – an organisation of women coffee-growers – is a Fairtrade farmer. She says, “Being a certified Fairtrade producer, I get a good advance price for my quality coffee. This has enabled me to have my children in school and provide for all basic needs in our home. Fairtrade premiums, which we also receive, are used for community projects , which include training in good farm and agronomy practices, governance, planning, and farming as a business, as well as in gender issues. For instance, we have a drama group which aims to mobilise women as coffee farmers, raise men’s and women’s awareness of family benefits of women being members of society, counselling and orphan care for those affected by HIV/AIDS and promote adult literacy – as well as the benefits of producing good quality coffee!”

Massatoma is manager of Mobiom Organic Cotton Co-operative’s Centre of Competence in Mali. His role is to ensure compliance with Fairtrade standards, facilitate Fairtrade and organic inspections and audits, and to monitor Fairtrade premium-funded projects. World market prices for cotton have been declining for some time, and African, Latin American and Asian producers, competing with subsidised cotton from the USA, China and the EU, are losing out on foreign exchange earnings, vital to health, education and other social development projects. Among other things, Mobiom aims to improve farmers’ incomes, promote Fairtrade and organic cotton production and reduce the harmful effects of conventional cotton production on community health and the environment.

During the Feb 29th visit, the FIG Tree will be open from noon til 2pm, serving a lunch of soup, sandwiches and other refreshments for £6.50. Please come along and meet these two outstanding growers who have achieved so much for their communities. If you intend to do so, please contact Garstang Fairtrade Steering Group Chairperson Ruth Bruce on 01995 602784, email brucemr@btinternet.com for catering purposes.