Fairtrade Fortnight 2017
The Scottish Fair Trade Forum participated in a very eventful Fairtrade Fortnight this year, including hosting visits from two producers and attending events across Scotland in schools, colleges, churches and many other organisations who are interested in supporting and learning about Fair Trade.
From February 27th to March 4th, producer Bijumon Kurian visited from Plantrich Agritech, an Indian agribusiness which supplies sustainable products such as Fairtrade coffee, tea, cocoa and herbs and spices.
Bijumon had a busy week of events engaging with school pupils, businesses and Fair Trade campaigners. On his first day in Scotland, he attended Montrose Fair Trade Forum AGM where he spoke to Fair Trade campaigners about his Indian Fair Trade products and the work of Plantrich Agritech. The following day he attended the Rotary Breakfast in Edinburgh followed by a meeting with Matthew Algie where they discussed Fairtrade coffee and Bijumon was given a tour around their 'coffee lab'. In the afternoon, Bijumon spoke to students at Strathclyde University about Plantrich Agritech and Fair Trade. This was followed by visits to Glasgow-based businesses Locavore and Greencity Wholefoods. At Locavore, Bijumon discussed the market for Fairtrade spices and coffee in Scotland and at Greencity they spoke about the importance of Fair Trade supply chains.
On Wednesday 1st March, Bijumon attended Stenhouse Primary School in Edinburgh where it was announced by The Minister for International Development and Europe that Scotland had been assessed as a Fair Trade Nation once more. Following this, Bijumon spoke to the Director of Nourish Scotland about implementing sustainability and organic farming. In the evening, Bijumon gave a talk at an event at the One World Shop where Fair Trade Campaigners heard about the great work his business is doing for Fair Trade and the wider work they do to increase education opportunities to children and women in tribal communities in Kerala, India.
Bijumon spoke to pupils at Kinross High School, Speyside High School and Aberlour Primary School over the next two days where he engaged with pupils around the importance of Fair Trade. On Thursday, Bijumon spoke to MSP's and campaigners at the Cross Party Group on Fair Trade. He spoke about how we hopes that Fair Trade will bring about revolutionary changes in India's agriculture now that an increasing number of farmers are joining the Fair Trade and organic movements.
Bijumon's final event was a visit to the Acorn Centre in Inverurie where he did a cooking demonstration using his Fair Trade herbs and spices to bring a taste of Kerala to Scotland.
From March 2nd - 9th, the Forum hosted Lousi Albadawi, a representative of the Oasis Centre in Palestine. Oasis is an organisation that provides support for mentally and physically disabled people in Beit Sahour, Palestine and sells Fair Trade handicrafts.
On her first day with the Forum, Lousi addressed the Cross Party Group on Fair Trade in the Scottish Parliament. She spoke about the difficulties she faces in producing and trading crafts in Palestine and how the Oasis Centre would like to increase their funding and market for their products. She also spoke about personal life, describing what it is like bringing up a family in a refugee camp and living under occupied territory.
In Renfrewshire, Lousi visited two centres for adults with learning disabilities - Milldale Day Service (Linwood), where she did a craft session with the service users, and Weavers Linn Respite Unit, where she was given an overview of the respite services available. Lousi had good discussions with the staff in both units about assisting people with learning disabilities.
On Thursday, Lousi visited Clyde College, which recently achieved Fairtrade status, for lunch with the Principal, the senior management team and the Fair Trade committee. The lunch was followed by a screen-printing workshop with a lecturer from the Textiles Department. Lousi was able to try screen-printing, discuss materials and techniques, and get advice on the types of products that might sell well in Scotland.
Lousi also spoke at a number of schools across Scotland during her visit. These visits raised awareness of Fair Trade handicrafts as many of the primary school pupils had only learnt about Fairtrade food products and it got the secondary school children thinking about buying Fair Trade as part of their role as global citizens. The primary school children were very interested in how the Oasis Centre makes products, particularly how the paper was recycled and the choice of materials. All of the schools warmly welcomed Lousi, with pupils greeting them at reception and offering tea, coffee and food! The schools clearly appreciated the visits.
Lousi's visit to Scotland and the host of events she attended was successful in raising awareness of how purchasing fairly-traded goods from Palestine can help the Palestinian people directly.