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British Fairtrade Foundation Works to Change Buying Habits

  • Jennifer Glasse

Fairtrade Foundation's campaign on the streets of London

Fairtrade Foundation's campaign on the streets of London

The British-based Fairtrade Foundation works to improve the lives of farmers in developing countries, by guaranteeing fair prices for their products and investing in social infrastructure. The organization also tries to convince British shoppers to switch to fair-trade products.

Dancing in the streets of London. This is a two-step with a purpose.

The aim is to raise awareness for fair-trade products, in this case, tea. The Fairtrade Foundaton would like Britons to change their regular brand of tea for a fair-trade one. Barbara Crowther is the foundation's director of communications.

"Here in Britain, we drink a lot of tea, but only one in ten cups are fair-trade, which means we're paying a fair price to the tea growers in the developing world," said Barbara Crowther. "And we know that in India, and in Africa, in Uganda and Tanzania, there are lots of farmers who've met all the social and environmental standards to be able to sell the tea as fair-trade, but the companies are still dragging their heels, they're still not buying it on fair-trade terms."

On the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda, the Gumutindo farms show the legacy of fair-trade dealings. The 7,000 farmers and their families have schools and medical centers. Fair prices and yearly crop bonuses have enabled these Ugandans to build their own warehouses to store their coffee. The guaranteed prices protect them from market fluctuations.

Six thousand kilometers away, Fiona Nakusi is here in London representing Gumatindo's farmers and meeting with potential clients. She says she's seen great progress since the farms became fair trade certified in 2004.

"In the fair-trade system the farmer gets a higher advance price and at the end of the year they also get bonus payments," said Fiona Nakusi.

The Fairtrade Foundation is helping farmers all over the world. In addition to tea and coffee producers in Africa and India, the foundation is trying to get good prices for all sorts of products - including these bananas from the Dominican Republic.

This London exhibition is showcasing fair-trade products, Olive oil from the Palestinian territories, chocolate, shirts made from fair-trade cotton and dried fruit.

"Are you liking your banana?," asked Andy Muscat.

Andy Muscat says his family does its best to support products that help producers.

"Anything like oranges, or bananas or mandarins we try to buy fair-trade," he said. "Coffee, tea, organic or fair trade, we try to buy all the time."

That's the Fairtrade Foundation's idea behind this "tea dance" - letting people know they can choose products that will make a difference half a world away.

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