I was reading up on the plans for the 2010 Fairtrade Fortnight and started to wonder how much of an impact the event has made since it got started. It turns out the now annual event was first held in Scotland, back in 1997. The following year it was conducted in the remainder of the United Kingdom. Since, the campaign has been introduced into quite a few countries, including Canada and New Zealand.
The main intention has always been to raise the awareness of the Fairtrade market and promote its products, while celebrating fair and ethical trading values. In my reading I learned that in 2009, local authorities and governments, faith groups, charities, ATOs, schools, and colleges participated by sponsoring and producing over 11,000 activities. These included fairs, coffee mornings, debates, film screenings, fashion shows, wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and raffles. Upon a review, of the 2009 Fairtrade Fortnight results, in my opinion, the impact since its inception has been astounding.
While scanning the Fairtrade Fortnight 2009 Review, I found out about one aspect of the campaign that I was not aware of, but became particularly interested. I stumbled upon the Producer Tour Highlights, and was captivated.
Through this the Fairtrade organization has established one truly inspiring element of their scheme to bring consumers and producers together. There were 35 producers on hand in the United Kingdom to encourage the public to become more knowledgeable about Fairtrade. These prophets spoke at more than 200 selected venues, which included schools, faith groups and universities throughout the United Kingdom, far and wide.
Some of these much-valued experts included Arsene Sourabie Baperma, a dried fruit producer from Burkina Faso, who appeared at an event at Bournemouth University. Also, Oumarou Gadjere, a cotton farmer from Cameroon and Mahmoud Issa, an olive farmer from Palestine, who spoke at Royal Holloway University. In addition, there were individuals who offered inspirational words to Fairtrade campaigners such as Cornelius Lynch, a banana farmer from St Lucia. Not to mention those like Bernard Srikantha Ranaweera from SOFA, Sri Lanka, who met with influential officials like the mayor of Bridgnorth, and a representative of the Chair of the District Council of Shropshire.
For me, I cannot imagine a more poignant way of conveying the Fairtrade message then through the spokesmen and women who live the experience. Surely this must inspire and excite support for the effort, equate to the growth of awareness, and a deep understanding on a fundamental level that will persevere. For anyone can identify the underlying benefits offered by Fairtrade in their own country, but to learn first hand what it means to those who are so far away that their plight can be overshadowed by other more visible issues, can be life changing. Such a domino effect is just the sort of force that will propel this wave of ethical progress forward.
Fairtrade Fortnight will be celebrated from the 22nd of February until the 7th of March in 2010. As such, I will be on the lookout for information on where the Producer Tour will visit in 2010. Admittedly, until now, I have made token gestures to support Fairtrade, but I have a feeling that after attending one of the producer’s talks I will be converted to hard core.