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Garstang Fairtrade Town

Garstang The World's First Fairtrade Town

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UK Farmers

When you bite into a bar of chocolate there is a reasonable chance that it wont just be the cocoa farmer that was denied a fair price for his produce but that the dairy farmer, who produced the other main ingredient, also received a raw deal. In April 2000, when Garstang was declared a Fairtrade Town, dairy farmers marched down Garstang High Street with a banner declaring "We want a fair share of the bottle". The fact is that small farmers across the world, whether they be coffee farmers in Peru, cocoa farmers in Ghana or hill farmers in the UK, are so often forced to sell their produce for less than it cost to produce it.

In 2001 the Go Global Group visited the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa farming community of New Koforidua in Ghana, which has since been twinned with Garstang. Many of the problems expressed by the cocoa farmers in New Koforidua bore a close relation to the problems faced by farmers in the UK. "Why are we always asked to produce cheap cocoa in large quantities which then forces the price down further? Is quality and method of production not important to them (the buyers)?" remarked one staff member of the nearby Kwadaso Agricultural College, recently twinned with Myerscough Agricultural College, outside Garstang.

While in Ghana the Go Global also visited the Volta River Estate Limited (VREL) banana plantation, where the Oke fairtrade bananas are grown. On the VREL plantation they have managed to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers by 80% resulting in an abundant insect life. It is the insects that cause the harmless black blemishes on the banana skins. Ironically despite these blemishes being an indication of a better fruit, severely blemished bananas are unable to be sold for export, another example of farmers being at the mercy of standards, which are sometimes beyond comprehension. But consumer demand has the power to change this by simply demanding bananas with blemishes.

So not only do many of the problems faced by farmers in the developing world show a resemblance to those problems faced by farmers here, but also the power to change things lies in the hands of the same people, the consumer. By buying Fairtrade Marked products and local produce we aren't just shopping but making a real difference in an unfair world.

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