Mary Popple, Chair of the Board, JTS
Everyone in the JTS team is committed to making a difference in our unfair and unequal world. For me, Fair Trade became important when raising my family because I wanted to be sure that my children understood that the everyday choices we made as a family affected other families who we would never know, but for whom our choices would always have a profound and enduring impact. Being inspired by what JTS do I joined the Board ten years ago.
In January 2021 JTS became a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). This is important because it demonstrates and ensures our commitment to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade across all the processes with which we run the business. So, it covers all our dealings with the producers we work with in Global South but it also covers what we do in Scotland.
Our products from WFTO producers include those from Turqle Trading, Eswatini Kitchen and KASFA (Kilombero Rice) plus Meru Herbs are on the way. See our shop for more on these products. Where our products are not supplied by WFTO producers or do not have the Fairtrade Mark, we ensure that the processes by which they are farmed or manufactured are guaranteed to abide by the Fair Trade Principles. We were delighted that KASFA, the small holder rice farmers’ association in Karonga, Northern Malawi, chose to work towards WFTO status. They achieved this last year in the midst of the pandemic, a truly heroic achievement.
In this time when many large companies are introducing their own not necessarily independently verified ethical processes, WFTO membership is the gold standard. Having taken part in the audit and been personally questioned, I know that this is an independent verification to which KASFA, JTS and all who have WFTO status must continue to live up to. In an age of fake news and lack of transparency in all walks of life this is very important. JTS products are ethically farmed, sourced, manufactured, paid for and, once they arrive in the UK, managed by the JTS team in Paisley.
The world is facing a huge economic crisis, possibly the biggest in our lifetimes. This has been brought about by the effects of the pandemic and the effects of war and is leading to huge increases in the costs of energy and steeply rising costs of foodstuffs. This is being witnessed at first hand right now by Ma’s in Sri Lanka whose Fairtrade organic coconut milk we import, distribute and sell. Ma’s are affected by power cuts and fuel shortages so production in their factory is slowed and finances are strained. What can we do? Besides sending messages of support, we all should keep buying their products (now additionally available as a reduced fat variety).
And that goes for all products from JTS suppliers and other Fair Trade suppliers in the Global South. This matters because it brings hard currency into the least developed countries and directs funds to those who need it.
In addition, more than ever we need to campaign to change world trade rules. Trade deals are being negotiated by our government now! Write to your MP to get them to push for Fair Trade as part of these new deals (find your MP here). If the climate emergency and the global economic crisis are to be tackled in any way successfully, the social and economic framework from the past which led to the inequalities across the world and brought us here need to be thrown away.
So, on this World Fair Trade Day, visit www.jts.co.uk and buy rice, beer bread, coconut milk, wonderful curry sauces, an ethical tomato sauce (tastes of tomatoes straight off the plant), jams and marmalades. Then, write to your MP and ask your MSP to support Fair Trade and help us change the world together.