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Guernsey: a Fairtrade Island

17th February 2020

Found in: Blog  -  

Guernsey has a strong sense of community, which extends far beyond its coastline. For many decades, islanders have championed the world’s poorest producers through small-scale initiatives and private sales. However, in 2005 this intention was embedded in Guernsey’s governance when a group of Deputies signed a Requête that committed the States of Guernsey to supporting Fairtrade and raising awareness of the Mark throughout its operations. As a result, Guernsey was awarded Fairtrade Island Status by the Fairtrade Foundation in March 2006, an accreditation that it will renew for the seventh time this year.

Fairtrade activity on the island is coordinated by a small but committed group of people who make up the Fairtrade Guernsey Steering Group. Representing a cross-section of island life, they work with States’ departments (in particular the Overseas Aid and Development Commission, which has taken the lead in championing Fairtrade across the States), businesses, schools, churches and other community organisations to raise awareness of the Fairtrade Mark, to increase the range, volume and visibility of Fairtrade products available to islanders and to show consumers how making the choice to buy Fairtrade can bring concrete benefits to disadvantaged farmers. Since Fairtrade Island Status was achieved, over 250 local organisations have backed the campaign and demonstrated their commitment to sustainability by becoming recognised Fairtrade Guernsey Supporters, either by offering Fairtrade products for sale or using them in their day-to-day operations.

Fairtrade Fortnight is the annual high point of the Fairtrade calendar, and this year runs from Monday 24th February to Sunday 8th March. A number of events and initiatives are being organised across the island, including a Big Fairtrade Breakfast (22nd Feb), a fundraising quiz (29th Feb), a short story writing competition for schools, and a children’s activity morning at the Guille-Allès library (7th March). In particular, this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight tells the stories of the farmers behind the £4billion UK chocolate industry who are, against the odds, becoming role models and successful businesswomen in their local communities in West Africa. Islanders should look out for the stories of two remarkable women cocoa farmers—including that of Therese, shown below—hidden and shared in public places for them to learn, celebrate and retell the truths about the people behind our favourite sweet treat.

Therese – Chris Terry

Therese deserves Fairtrade

As an Ivorian cocoa farmer and a woman at that, Therese is one of the fortunate ones. Both she and her husband own their own cocoa farms. She belongs to a group of farmers who have a market for their beans through Fairtrade. Most importantly, this means that she has a safety net in the form of a minimum price for her crop. This is vital, as prices for cocoa are some of the most volatile on the market and frequently plunge to levels that leave farmers like Therese hungry and out of pocket. It’s this security that allows Therese and her husband to support their children. The oldest is at university in Côte d’Ivoire’s capital city, Abidjan. The others study in the biggest nearby town, which is still a bumpy two-hour drive away. They stay there, which means not only that she must pay for their fees and books, but that she must find a place for them to stay and pay for their food. Most of her money goes on their education.

Fairtrade supports farmers like Therese, pushed into poverty by unfair and unsustainable low prices. We do not want poverty and exploitation to be part of the price of our chocolate bars. As shoppers, we are asking more questions about where our products come from, and how the people involved were treated and paid. We know that farmers deserve Fairtrade and, as a Fairtrade Island, Guernsey is proud to be part of this movement.

For more information about Fairtrade Guernsey or any of the events mentioned here, please visit the Fairtrade Guernsey Facebook page, the website www.fairtradeguernsey.com or email info@fairtradeguernsey.com.

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