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Hope for the Future: Fairtrade Fortnight puts focus on global foods like chocolate, coffee and bananas

By Jenny Adams

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This is Fairtrade Fortnight. Its focus is the threat climate change brings to some of our most-loved foods, like chocolate, coffee and bananas.

The over-heating Earth is making it harder to grow crops. Combined with deeply unfair trade, producers are pushed to the brink.

Go bananas for Fairtrade products.
Go bananas for Fairtrade products.

Albeiro Alfonso Cantillo farms bananas in Magdalena, northern Colombia. It’s an area affected by Colombia’s long struggle with armed conflict. The Covid-19 pandemic added pressure as banana prices dropped. Now they’re facing the challenge of the changing climate.

Fairtrade programmes have helped the community work together, learning to tackle plant diseases while saving money, reducing water use and improving soil health. The extra income has enabled a better education for children, who bring new skills back to sustain their communities.

Many such stories of hope begin with people facing multiple injustices perpetrated through trade policies, international debt, gender discrimination, racial and social biases, plus the huge injustice of those least responsible for climate change bearing the brunt of its impacts.

To tackle these injustices needs active preferential treatment for those most affected. I think that will still only address a small proportion of the historic damage done through colonialism and, in some cases, the slave trade.

The Fairtrade movement is one of many working to transform unjust systems. For me, seeking justice is a core expression of my faith, as I try to love the world and love my neighbours.

An active faith will find expression in political views and campaigning. We see that in the broad range of positions from people of diverse beliefs within every political party and faith community.

For example, I am delighted to have conducted a same-sex marriage, celebrating a couple’s love and commitment, but there are other views about that amongst Christians.

There are also many who don’t believe in a higher power but who I find inspirational in their compassion and work for justice.

Campaigns for justice are never unique to any faith stance and dominant faith traditions are often behind the curve in recognising inequalities.

So, what can we do with all this agreement and disagreement across faith (or not), in life and politics?

I think it’s important to keep listening to each other. We always have more to learn. In particular, we need to listen to people whose experiences are different from our own, who are in minorities, or who have been less well-represented in power.

Ultimately, we’re still likely to disagree on some policies, whatever the faith stance of anyone promoting them, but we can grow in understanding, respect and compassion.

We also still have a responsibility to do our best, with our campaigning and votes, our words and actions, and in how we spend any money we are fortunate to have. Which leads me back to Fairtrade Fortnight. If you’re able, please look out for the Fairtrade mark when you’re shopping.

And (shameless plug!) there’s an Eco Information and Coffee Morning in Hopeman Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 4 from 10am-12noon. Why not pop in to find ways to play your part in dealing with climate and trade injustices?

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