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South Tyneside celebrates Fair Trade Fortnight

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Fair Trade ... backed by the Mayor.


SOUTH Tyneside has been celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight, which highlights the importance of buying produce that gives farmers a fair deal.


Remember when it was fashionable to Make Trade Fair?


Stars like Coldplay's Chris Martin lined up to promote the cause, and everybody wore the associated Make Poverty History wristbands.


The Oxfam campaign was part of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and, although it may have drifted from the public eye, it is still a big issue.


Martin Luther King once said: "Before you've finished your breakfast this morning, you'll have relied on half the world."


It's an interesting, but depressing thought, when you realise the people you've relied on for your tea and muesli are almost certainly being exploited and oppressed by the unfair power balance in world trade.


Fairtrade is a growing, international movement which ensures producers in poor countries get a fair deal.


This means a fair price for their goods, which covers the cost of production and guarantees a living income, long-term contracts which provide real security, and support to gain the knowledge and skills they need to develop their businesses and increase sales.


Fairtrade Fortnight, organised by the Fairtrade Foundation, is a two-week annual campaign, celebrating products carrying the Fairtrade mark.


Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "Millions of farmers and workers are walking the delicate tightrope of international trade.


"When market prices wobble, they risk falling into devastating poverty.


"Fairtrade offers them stability, so they have the confidence to look ahead and move towards a better future."


The Co-op is one of the biggest supermarket supporters of Fairtrade goods, having launched the UK's first Fairtrade bananas, in 2000.


Chocolate, coffee, mangoes, pineapples and wine have followed, and the group continues to campaign for, and develop, Fairtrade in communities.


To coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, it became the first UK retailer to convert its entire own-brand tea, coffee and hot chocolate to Fairtrade.


The move will benefit growers in some of the world's poorest countries, including Malawi, which is producing Fairtrade tea for the first time.


As well as receiving a guaranteed price for their crop, growers receive a premium to invest in projects of their choice, such as water supplies, educational equipment and medical facilities.


David Mockford, chief officer for the Co-op in the North East of England and Cumbria, said: "More than one-in-four of our members cite ethical trading as their priority, and in particular, support for Fairtrade."


Retail sales of Fairtrade-certified products topped £290m in 2006 and have grown 40 per cent year-on-year over the past five years.


Awareness levels of the Fairtrade mark among the UK population reached their highest level last year, at 57 per cent.


Communities across the country, including about 320 Fairtrade towns, will take part in more than 10,000 planned activities during Fairtrade Fortnight, which ends on Sunday.


Last year, an estimated 10,000 activities and events took place, from Fairtrade parades, concerts and debates to tea dances, fiestas, fashion shows and family days.


Harriet Lamb added: "Fairtrade is already making a big difference to the lives of more than seven million people in the developing world, but there are millions more we'd like to reach.



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