The climate emergency was placed at the heart of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign, find more about Fair Trade and Climate Change and get involved. 

Fairtrade Fortnight is as important as ever. The majority of us may be at home, but we are still relying on and buying essential items thanks to the dedication of key workers. But key workers at the start of many supply chains are struggling.

Farmers of crops such as tea, coffee and cocoa are still being paid poorly for their produce and work. On top of that, they face low, volatile market prices and rising production costs. Workers who make our products and clothes also face low wages and dangerous conditions, and have little power in the multimillion-pound supply chains they supply to.

And worryingly, alongside the coronavirus crisis and market challenges, the climate crisis is intensifying.

Farmers tell us that they are feeling the effects of climate change now, with freak weather, extreme rainfall, prolonged dry seasons and increasing prevalence of plant diseases all affecting their crops. A farmer from a Fair Trade cooperative in Malawi told us:

‘Climate change means there are now seasons when the harvest fails. If this happens the immediate impact is hunger for the already vulnerable families.’

Fairtrade coffee farmer, Bayardo Betanco of the Prodecoop co-operative in Nicaragua, said:

There is a chain on earth that starts where the producers are. They are the ones who suffer the consequences of climate change, the ones who get the least help, and carry all of the burden. It’s not fair.’

To rub salt into the wound, we know that countries such as Malawi and Nicaragua have contributed very little to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change compared to more industrialised nations such as the UK.

Here in Scotland, as a nation of people which has come to love tea, coffee, bananas and cocoa, and which sources many other foods from overseas, these crises have the potential to affect us too. If we don’t take action now, availability of products such as coffee could decline to the extent that they become luxury items.

According to the Fairtrade Foundation, if current rates of warming continue, it is predicted that by 2050:

    • may no longer be suitable
    • Adverse climate conditions will trigger a drastic decline in bananas yields in 10 countries
    • Many regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, who produce over half the world’s cocoa, will become too hot to grow the crop.
    • As much as 50% of global land currently used for coffee farming

For these reasons, now, more than ever, we need to ensure that farmers receive fair pay, prices, and have power to make their own choices, meet their everyday needs and deal with the challenges posed by climate change.

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