Friday, July 09, 2010

Fairtrade in Malawi

We had a fabulous Co-operative Party AGM last month in the Liverpool branch - and that is not a phrase that readily trips from my lips, I can assure you.

Bill Whittaker our Regional Secretary (that is not quite the right description of his voluntary role but hey shoot me, he is fab) had been on a long visit to Malawi in Africa to learn more about how Fairtrade actually works for the growers. As I am passionate about Fairtrade and have family friends who are Malawians I was a dead cert to be there.

He talked extensively about the small co-operatives that each Fairtrade committee in each area sets up, how they agree how they will spend their income to the benefit of their communities and displayed photographs of groups of growers showing off their new facilities. Mainly sugar cane growers, they have used the money to build homes with concrete floors instead of dirt so that they can keep produce for longer, health clinics, wells, electric supplies... It was the most fascinating talk I have heard in years and I hope that other Co-op Party branches will ask Bill to tell them of his experiences. I was delighted to hear that Co-op stores for instance now buy all their sugar from this source.

You can read more about the vital impact of Fairtrade here.

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