Scotland is now a Fair Trade Nation, but Martin Rhodes from the Scottish Fair Trade Forum tells TFN that paying a decent price for our bananas is the least we can do to support fair trade around the world.
Is fair trade significant to Scotland?
The fair trade movement has made great progress in Scotland, which became a Fair Trade Nation in 2013. Right now it is Fairtrade Fortnight and there are related events occurring nationwide with producers (we are welcoming fair trade visitors from Nicaragua, Nepal and Colombia to Scotland over the fortnight) spreading awareness of the benefits of ethical purchasing. Also, importantly, the Scottish Government’s procurement reform bill, which is currently going through parliament, has the potential to firmly entrench fair trade values into Scottish society.
What’s the point of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum?
Our initial target was to ensure that Scotland achieved Fair Trade Nation status, and this was achieved at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight in 2013. In the last year we have shifted our focus to maximising the influence of ethical purchasing within civil society, the public sector and the purchasing practices of individuals and communities. Our goals also include expanding awareness of different fair trade products outside of foods, such as cotton and sports balls.
The last few years has seen the price of bananas in UK supermarkets drop by almost half. This can be devastating to banana producers in the developing world
Where can Scotland do better?
The formal acknowledgement of Scotland as a Fair Trade Nation within the new procurement reform bill would solidify the national commitment to ethical procurement within public sector purchasing. It would put the fundamental recognition of fair trade in Scotland into national legislation, in line with the new EU directive and could increase public support for fair trade.
Why are we always hearing about bananas?
The Fairtrade Foundation has chosen to highlight bananas because they are an iconic product within the fair trade movement, with some supermarkets stocking 100% fair trade bananas. However, the last few years has seen the price of bananas in UK supermarkets drop by almost half. These price drops are beneficial to consumers but can be devastating to vulnerable banana producers in the developing world. The Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 campaign to Make Bananas Fair works to ensure that this vital crop is being bought from producers at a fair price to reduce the impact of exploitation and poverty.
What can we do to support fair trade?
It is easy to pick up the cheapest and most convenient product from the shelf, but consider that by purchasing products which are fair trade, somewhere in the world the producer of what you are buying is receiving a fair price. By doing something as simple as this you are contributing towards a global system which recognises fairness and the socio-economic needs of producers. Also don’t just look at your individual consumer choices but also the choices made by your workplace and procurement in the public and private sector.