Malawian farmers visits Elgin for Fairtrade Fortnight
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SUGAR cane farmers from Malawi paid a special visit to Elgin as part of the community's Fairtrade Fortnight events.
Aubrey Meki Chilenje and Ndiuzayani Zaya were at the Supper Room of Elgin Town Hall on February 29 to tell of how Fairtrade has changed their lives.
They are members of the Kasinthula Cane Sugar Growers (KCG) Association, which was established in 1996 as a joint venture between their government and a nearby sugar mill.
An area of largely unproductive land in the inhospitable southern region of Malawi was converted to sugar cane production to increase the supply of raw cane to the mill while providing an income for 282 subsistence farmers.
The initiative now also provides employment for nearly 800 permanent and seasonal field workers.
KCG receives a Fairtrade Premium of $60 per tonne for all Fairtrade sales and that has been invested in healthcare, clean water, improved housing, machinery and more.
Ndiuzayani, whose family are sugar cane farmers, has been able to study and is now a business studies teacher at a school funded by Fairtrade premiums.
Fairtrade Elgin members Pat Paterson and Mary Wall described the talk as fascinating, with the speakers discussing the challenges faced by the farmers – from extreme weather to hungry elephants – as well as the importance of Fairtrade.
The February 29 visit was organised with the help of Colleen Tait of the Scottish Fairtrade Forum, with sponsorship from Elgin Community Council.
During Fairtrade Fortnight, which ran from February 24 to March 8, the group also arranged for representatives from Elgin's two secondary schools to attend Moray Council's HQ to serve up Fairtrade teas, coffees and cakes made with Fairtrade ingredients.
The pupils also spoke with staff and local councillors about the organisation's work and the importance of buying Fairtrade products.
Anyone who would like to find out more about the group's work, or who would be interested them, can visit the Fairtrade Elgin Facebook page for details.