January 2009

Fairtrade Towns wildfire spreads!

When the small British market town of Garstang became the world’s first Fairtrade Town in April 2000, the hope was that “the beacon that has started in Garstang can spread like wildfire through the whole country and beyond”.

The movement is now truly international, and the wildfire continues to burn. As 2008 comes to an end there are over 560 Fairtrade Towns across the world, including the cities of London, Rome, Brussels, Copenhagen and San Francisco. To see the complete list, visit wikipedia.

Join the campaign!

The third International Fairtrade Towns Conference will take place in Lyon, France, on February 6-7 2009. Southern partners who would like to consider starting a Fairtrade Towns Campaign for their own town are welcome to attend the conference. Contact Karlien Wouters of Max Havelaar Belgium at: info@fairtradegemeenten.be

You are also welcome to join the International Fairtrade Towns Google Discussion Group.

Garstang: the world's first Fairtrade Town
Burkina Faso cotton farmers need Fairtrade

The famous German actress, Cosma Shiva Hagen, is a great supporter of Fairtrade cotton. At the beginning of December, she accompanied staff members of TransFair Germany on a visit to the Fairtrade cotton farmers of the UNPCB cooperative in Burkina Faso, to see firsthand how they are benefiting.

The local market price for cotton is currently only half the Fairtrade minimum price, and less than the cost of production. The opportunity to sell to the Fairtrade market therefore makes a huge difference to the farmers’ lives. For example in Complan, one of the cotton producing communities that the actress and TransFair members visited, the Fairtrade premium has enabled the farmers to install new school desks and a sink, and to build a new granary for their village.

The farmers of Complan have many other plans for the future. They want to build a canteen for pupils of the local school, a house for the teachers and an infirmary. But for this to become reality, consumers in Germany and all over the world need to continue supporting them by purchasing products made from Fairtrade certified cotton!

Complan community members with Fairtrade cotton
A new safety net for soybean and pulse farmers

Millions of smallholders in the developing world depend on soybeans and pulses for their livelihood. FLO has recently approved Fairtrade standards for these types of product, covering haricot beans, chickpeas, red kidney beans and lentils as well as soybeans.

The introduction of these standards and Fairtrade minimum prices will provide a safety net for farmers who are struggling more than ever against tumbling world market prices and rising production costs. Fairtrade sales will also generate a Fairtrade premium for communities to invest in projects such as better healthcare, education and production methods. To read more about this project, please click here.

Finland beats Fairtrade Coffee Break record!

The world’s biggest-ever Fairtrade Coffee Break took place in Finland on 21 October. The aim was to break the record set by the United States in May 2008, when the Fair Trade Resource Network and Fair Trade Towns USA event attracted 12,158 participants.

Finland, with a population of only 5.3 million people, has convincingly broken that record with a total of 52,061 people enjoying Fairtrade products. In a huge national effort, coffee breaks were organized by stores, restaurants, cafés, service stations, workplaces, schools, kindergartens, churches, NGOs, the Foreign Ministry, Parliament House and many volunteers. In all, some 6,400 litres of Fairtrade coffee were consumed at 1,096 coffee breaks around the country.

Staff at supermarket help break the Fairtrade coffee break record
Starbucks UK to sell only Fairtrade espresso

In November, Starbucks UK and the Fairtrade Foundation announced that by the end of 2009, 100% of the espresso coffee sold in Starbucks stores in the UK and Ireland will be Fairtrade certified in addition to Starbuck’s own Shared Planet™ certification.

This includes both whole bean packs and espresso-based beverages such as cappuccino and caffe latte, which form the vast majority of those sold in Starbucks outlets. To read the full statement, please click here.

Howard Schulz of Starbucks, Harriet Lamb of the Fairtrade Foundation UK, and Rob Cameron of FLO (L to R) celebrate Starbuck's commitment to Fairtrade
New hope for Palestinian olive growers

The first Palestinian olive products to carry Fairtrade certification will appear on UK shop shelves in 2009.

Olive growing is often the only feasible agricultural activity on fragile and marginal lands, a crucial alternative to abandonment or desertification. However, the conflict in the Palestine region creates severe barriers for farmers. Water shortages and restrictions on movement exacerbate the levels of deprivation and marginalisation.

Internationally recognised Fairtrade certification will support small Palestinian olive growers, enabling them to earn more sustainable incomes and improve future prospects for their communities. To qualify, farmers must be members of legally registered and democratically run organizations, to ensure that Fairtrade premiums are distributed equitably for maximum shared benefit.

This opportunity has been made possible by extending Fairtrade nuts and oilseeds standards to include olives and olive oil from Western Asia and North Africa. The standards were developed in close consultation with producer groups and exporters – for more details please visit www.fairtrade.net/smfarmers.html

Palestinian farmers’ organizations and the Palestinian Fair Trade Association have been working with Oxfam and fair trade organisations such as Zaytoun to achieve the social, environmental and economic criteria for certification. The first groups are expected to complete the certification process in the first half of 2009. To read more about this project, please click here.

Olive producers in Palestine
The Melbourne Fairtrade tram

Already a familiar sight in Melbourne, the BP Wild Beans tram is carrying its message daily around the city: ‘We only use 100% Fairtrade-certified coffee beans at our Wild Bean Cafes’. An image of the Fairtrade mark reinforces the impact.

The tram will travel around Melbourne until February 2009. The aim is to promote greater awareness of Fairtrade and the Fairtrade mark among the general public in one of Australia’s major cities.

Tram advertises Fairtrade in Melbourne

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Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO)
Phone +49.228.94 92 30 – Email ¬ info@fairtrade.net ¬ www.fairtrade.net