WHEN trawling the supermarket aisles, the last thing most of us think about is the lives of farmers thousands of miles away producing the food we eat and drink.

In developing countries many of them struggle to make a living as they work hard to feed their families.

The Fairtrade movement connects disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, helping to achieve fairer pricing and trading conditions. It empowers farmers and workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives.

Bradford was declared a Fairtrade Zone - a local authority area with Fairtrade status - in March 2006. Such zones are made up of volunteers and representatives from local organisations who work together to promote Fairtrade.

“For more than 25 years, the movement has been working to make trade work for everyone and end exploitation, and the need is as great as ever,” says the Bradford Fairtrade Zone’s chairman Karen Palframan.


“Millions of farmers and workers in the developing world who produce many of our favourite products, such as tea, coffee and chocolate, live well below the poverty line.

“Fairtrade is a lifeline as it gives farmers the safety of minimum prices so they have more certainty and can plan ahead.

An additional Fairtrade Premium means farmer organisations have money to invest in new farming methods to be more productive and better equipped. They also invest in schools, clean water, healthcare,and infrastructure to transform their communities.

The funds also help farmers on the front line of climate change. “Fairtrade promotes climate-resilient agriculture thought its certification standards and programmes," says Karen. "More and more farmers are harvesting rainwater, planting shade trees, switching to biogas and renewable energy sources and investing in integrated pest management, organic fertilisers and dynamic agroforestry.”

The Fairtrade towns movement continues to grow in the both the UK and overseas, with more than 1,200 Fairtrade towns in almost 25 countries.

Bradford Fairtrade Zone is made up of Haworth - the world’s first Fairtrade Village - Thornton, and towns of Ilkley, Shipley, Burley in Wharfedale, Baildon and Keighley.

Karen and other active Fairtraders are supporting Bradford Cathedral’s Fairtrade breakfast - which is open to everyone - on Sunday March 1, during Fairtrade Fortnight which runs until March 8.

“It is our opportunity to remind everyone of the great need for Fairtrade,” says Karen.

Mike de Villiers of Bradford Cathedral’s Eco Group, says: “Bradford Cathedral is an eco-cathedral, so we are committed to environmental concerns and Fairtrade is totally into sustainability.

“We, as members of the Christian church, want to campaign for justice.This is about serving and loving our neighbour, and loving our neighbour means we need a just system of trade for them.”

Bradford Cathedral sells Fairtrade goods throughout the year at a stall open after Sunday service. These include tea, coffee, chocolate, cereal, rice, olive oil and cleaning products.

This year the Fairtrade Fortnight focuses on the women who grow cocoa in Ghana and the Cote d’Ivorie.

Ilkley Fairtrade Group is holding a town-wide quiz with a prize of Fairtrade chocolate bars. The quiz is designed to highlight the plight of many cocoa farmers who live in extreme poverty, despite the UK chocolate industry being worth at least £4 billion a year.

“The average cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, where 60 percent of all cocoa is grown, earns less than 75p a day - the poverty line is around £1.40 a day,” says Karen.

Around 23 per cent of workers in Fairtrade are women.

The quiz has two easy questions, and the answers can be found in special Fairtrade Foundation ‘storybombs’, which the group has distributed around Ilkley. Bradford Council is also holding a Fairtrade bake sale.

While it is not difficult to find Fairtrade goods in major supermarkets - which stock products from fruit to chocolate to tea, coffee and wine - some are not stocking as many as they did in the past, says Karen. “But Fairtrade products are also available in the well-known budget supermarkets. There are also many non-food Fairtrade products, such as Fairtrade footballs and clothes,” she says.

Karen is delighted that her daughter and her husband chose Fairtrade gold wedding rings when they got married.

Councillor Adrian Farley, the Council’s Fairtrade champion, says: “Fairtrade works to reduce inequalities, promote wellbeing and improve the environment we are all part of. “Small decisions we take in the Bradford district can have a big impact across the world.”

He adds: “Fairtrade means justice, fairness and equality for workers. It aims to provide a stable price and a premium to enable workers to invest in areas such as education, and clean water,- the things we take for granted - and so create a better standard of living.

“It’s very easy to support Fairtrade - just look out for the symbol on tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas and other products. Sometimes the price is the same as non-Fairtrade.”

Worldwide there more than 1.66 million farmers and workers in 1,411 producer organisations across the Fairtrade system.

. The Fairtrade mark used on goods is licensed by the Fairtrade Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation. Across the UK the foundation has licensed more than 4,500 Fairtrade-certified products for sale through retail and catering outlets.

Baildon Co-op is hosting a Fairtrade stall throughout Fairtrade Fortnight selling various goods. Products on sale include bananas, tea, wine and chocolates.

*Bradford Cathedral’s Fairtrade breakfast will be held on March 1 from 8.45am until 9.45am. It is free, with the opportunity to donate to the UK-based Fairtrade Foundation Traidcraft.

*Bradford Fairtrade Zone would like to hear from anyone who would like to campaign with them, as they need to get more cafes, shops, schools and businesses to offer and/or use Fairtrade products. Anyone interested can contact them on 07703 778261.