Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice
Fairtrade Fortnight 2023 took place between 27 February and 12 March. The theme this year is how making the small switch to Fairtrade supports producers in protecting the future of some of our most loved food and the planet.
Climate change is making crops like coffee, bananas and chocolate harder to grow so in turn much more expensive to buy. This, combined with deeply unfair trade practises, means that communities growing these crops are being pushed to the brink. But if more people choose Fairtrade that means extra income, power and support for those communities which help support producers in protecting the future of these crops and the planet.
The Welsh Government is committed to fair trade and Wales has been a fair trade nation since 2008. We have seen the benefits it brings to farmers who are supported through Welsh Government funding in Uganda. This has allowed community led initiatives, both in Wales and Uganda, to make real impacts on their communities.
Jenipher Sambezi and Nimrod Wambette from the Mount Elgon Agroforestry Communities Cooperative (MEACCE) were funded by our Wales and Africa programme to visit Wales from their homes in Eastern Uganda for Fairtrade Fortnight and they continue to be real figureheads for the movement. Through their cooperative they produce quality fairtrade coffee, ‘Jenipher’s Coffi’ that is sold in Wales through a partnership with Ferraris of Pontyclun.
I attended a number of events to mark Fairtrade Fortnight. Firstly, I visited Cardiff Metropolitan University on St David’s Day. The student led body continue to be an exemplar of the excellent work taking place throughout Wales. The University was recently awarded first place in the People and Planet University League for year 2022/23. This was out of 153 UK universities.
I also visited the fair trade shop Sussed in Porthcawl. This shop, founded by and supporting the charity Sustainable Wales, is a community owned cooperative staffed entirely by volunteers, a place where everyone has an equal say, promoting workplace democracy.
I hosted both Jenipher Sambezi and Nimrod Wambette in Ty Hywel where they discussed fair trade and the positive impact it is having on their community with a large number of Senedd Members. Those who encounter Jenipher and Nimrod continue to be impressed by the work they do and the impact they have on their community.
On International Women’s Day I spoke at an event hosted by the Welsh Government’s Wales and Africa team, which celebrated the four women’s empowerment projects in Uganda and Lesotho that were funded through our partners in Hub Cymru Africa. The importance of fair trade was also highlighted at this event and how switching to fairtrade products can have a massive impact on small producers in these countries.
As we approach Wales’s 15-year anniversary as a fair trade nation we are working towards developing more ambitious criteria to keep Wales at the forefront of this movement. An announcement on the new criteria will be made this summer to mark the occasion.