Friday, 28 May 2010

Reinstating 'development' in the 'Doha Development Round' - Aurelie Walker

Aurelie Walker is the Trade Policy Advisor at Fairtrade Foundation
In his interview with the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday morning David Cameron‘s fleeting reference to concluding the Doha Round of trade negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a stimulus to growth in the Eurozone roused little excitement in the interviewer.  However, for those working to cushion developing countries from the negative effects of trade liberalisation, ears pricked up. 
Cameron rightly pointed out concluding the Round is a complicated matter. He is clearly well briefed on the intricacies of commercial diplomacy.  The intricacies of international development may be equally as difficult to overcome.
The Development Round has stalled because of the disparate definitions of ‘development’ among the WTO membership. The G8, emerging economies, least developed countries and small island states rarely see eye to eye on this – the central objective of the nine-year-old round of trade negotiations.  Without a common consensus on development, the Development Round cannot be revived, let alone concluded.  The Treasury perspective expressed in the interview, that concluding the round would be a stimulus to growth that ‘does not cost anything’ and that ‘doesn’t put up the budget deficit’ does not present the full picture.
Questions of migration, conflict and poverty reduction are inextricably linked to a country’s economic and trade policies.  This is recognised by the new ‘post-Lisbon’ EU in its revamped commitment to ‘Policy Coherence for Development’.  For some reason, the trade experts are the last to concede what every other social scientist has acknowledged; that unfettered trade liberalisation is not a synonym for ‘development’.  In fact, the more the trade policy tools available to developing countries to manage their economy are restricted, the greater the income inequalities that will arise from any growth; as attested by India’s, Brazil’s, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa’s experience.    If the European position in the Development Round is not development oriented and leads to increased inequality and pushes the marginalised further into poverty - at home and abroad- it will be paid for in other ways as the consequences unfurl - Greece and Jamaica are the most recent tragic examples.  The Treasury should be aware that pushing trade liberalisation as a stimulus to growth without a consensus on development in the WTO can indeed be very costly.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

A meeting in Malawi by Annette Muller

Annette Muller is the Video Officer at the Fairtrade Foundation

Next week I will be visiting some Fairtrade farmers in Malawi. As you can imagine I'm pretty excited. Yet there's so much to plan so I have to say I'm also a bit tired and slightly stressed making sure as much as possible is in place! But of course, overall I am very excited.

This visit will continue research for a new project to increase the opportunity for farmers to tell their own stories to us here in the UK. Earlier this year I, along with workmate Richard, visited Malawi and spent an afternoon at Kasinthula Cane Growers in the Chikwawa region - a hot and humid district coloured by brown dirt and referred to by some as the dustbowl.

During our visit, a relentless sun burnt down on us causing never ending beads of sweat to form on our faces and run down our backs. And for me, visiting Kasinthula felt like going home. Having grown up in Bundaberg, Australia, and spending much of my time playing in the sugar cane fields as a kid, I felt a particular connection to the people I met at Kasinthula as we shared memories of childhood games running through the towering cane stalks...

But while some of the locals and I had similar lives growing up, in other respects there were certainly differences from my childhood to the children of Kasinthula producers. When talking to Alfred Butao, a Kasinthula farmer who lives in the Chinangwa village, he told us his continual burden was how he would provide breakfast for his eight children (aged between 3-15 years) every day. Despite this Alfred is a very positive man and explained his dream for the future is to be able to send all of his children on to professional studies. He personally hopes part of any future Fairtrade premium may fund a junior primary school in his village so the small children don’t have to travel 5km on foot each way to school and back.

Alfred with his wife and seven of his children

I came back from our visit with no doubt that the Fairtrade premium is extremely important to and has massive impact on the lives of the producers, but I was also interested to hear from some of the Fairtrade Committee members that they felt the relationships and new opportunities were the most important part of their involvement with Fairtrade.

A very lively young man named Aubry M Chilenje (the current Secretary of the Fairtrade Committee) told us that 'Fairtrade is an innovation. Fairtrade has meant meeting other cultures. For example your visit has brought access for me to see you and talk to you and learn about your culture - even just by looking at you it is interesting to learn about you. Fairtrade has brought us together which is very interesting. It is not just the Fairtrade premium that has a positive impact.'

Some of the Fairtrade Committee members - Aubry is the man holding the baby :)

Aubry's comments were particularly interesting as the purpose of our visit to Malawi was to meet with Fairtrade farmers there and discuss ways in which we can work together to create a better way of connecting the farmers more directly (and more frequently) to a wider group of interested shoppers in the UK. We experimented with ideas about how this may be done and I can’t wait to meet with the groups again on our next visit there in June to get the ball rolling on some new media project plans. There is much more work to be done yet so all I can say at this time is... watch this space!

Our guide during the visit was a very friendly man named Elod Kafaukoma. We were excited to discover that Elod is currently blogging about life for himself and the wider community of Kasinthula farmers. To read about daily life in the Chikwawa region see Elod's blog:

Thursday, 20 May 2010

A free weekend of Fairtrade family fun by Simon Howlett

Simon Howlett is a volunteer of Fairtrade Foundation's Supporter Marketing Services

It will be a lie to say that the weather was excellent for those three days of the festival. That the weather was fantastic and everyone was in T-shirts complaining about the heat.

In actually fact it was cold, windy and the sky looked like it had woken up on the wrong side of bed.

However being a happy bunch of Fairtrade staff and volunteers, we didn’t let this get us down. We drank coffee from the Caf├ęDirect stall, had Fairtrade mulled wine from the bar (when we had finished our duties of course) and listened to the live music coming from the stage. We were they to promote Fairtrade as well as to celebrate Dubble’s 10th birthday – we were having a party.

The Fairtrade festival took place on Potters Fields on the South Bank of the Thames right beside Tower Bridge. As well as celebrating Dubble’s 10th birthday (in case you do not know it is an excellent Fairtrade chocolate bar- yum!) It was also to celebrate  World Fair Trade Day.

Stalls selling crafts, books, nuts, dried fruit, ice cream, beauty products and pants were all present; many of the stalls also had free samples. Though if you felt your kids should do something more active than just eat,  they could get their face painted, play some football, compete in the banana jousting, do some singing, drama and drumming workshops or just sit back and listen to the author Tom Palmer read from his book Foul Play. 

We cannot forget the live music upon the stage.  A wide variety of acts appeared - from samba to rock, hip-hop to folk. There was no reason for anyone not to dance to at least one genre of music over the three days. If you still did not feel like dancing then the banana people made sure you did!

What can be said about the Fairtrade festival is that it was fun, joyful, musical and cold – those working had high spirits, those that were there got stuck into the activities, whilst those that stumbled upon us on Potters Fields looked bewildered, then delighted, then amused by the variety of products and entertainment – not bad for a cold windy weekend.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Fairtrade boston beans first taste!

How did other Fairtrade Foundation staff get their chops round the newest Fairtrade product – boston beans from Kenya –last night?

Gemma and her husband Dave enjoyed theirs in a stirfry with noodles and Liberation’s Fairtrade cashews and peanuts – it was yummy, and Dave said ‘it tastes better because it’s ethical’.

Jenny munched them steamed and added to a curry accompanied by Fairtrade rice, with leftovers for today’s lunch. For pudding, Fairtrade icecream. It was Cream o’ Galloway if you’re interested. ‘Er, there are no pictures - I was too hungry.’

Meanwhile, John was busy cooking for the family. Here's his run through of proceedings:

“Preparing supper started on the 17.54 from Waterloo with a ‘text’ discussion between various family members for recipe ideas - without agreement or conclusion. Sam Stern’s ‘Cooking up a Storm’, cookbook for teenagers, came to my rescue (as it always does!) – ‘Salmon – no bones’ – which used up readily available ingredients in the fridge & larder. Organic salmon supplemented by Fairtrade basmati rice and ‘Bobby’ beans from Kenya – delicious. Even my teenager son, who ‘does not like fish’, admitted it was ‘tasty’. Happiness all round!”

Learn more about Fairtrade certified vegetables

Coconut curry by Tony Wright

Tony Wright's the Digital Marketing Officer at Fairtrade Foundation.

With great excitement last night, I rushed home via the supermarket to check out the all new Fairtrade certified boston beans that went on sale. After flicking through a few cook books to see what I could do, I decided I'd stick by my own curry recipe of coconut curry, but this time round, throw the new Fairtrade product category into the mix.

An easy and straight forward recipe, this coconut curry's a great way to enjoy a great range of Fairtrade products all at once. From the gentle crunch of Fairtrade cashew nuts suggested by my colleague Emma, to the creamy coconut sauce, it's filled with nutrients and if you can muster the self control, is perfect for the next day's lunch.


Curry base:  cooking onion, garlic cloves, Fairtrade tumeric, garam masala, chilli powder, grounded coriander, cumin, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk.

Vegetables: butter beans, baby potatoes, Fairtrade boston beans, Fairtrade Mango chutney, Fairtrade cashew nuts, vine tomatoes, courgette, fresh corriander, Fairtrade basmati rice.

Firstly, take a tea spoon of each spice and blend them on a small dish. Add a little chilli powder if you prefer curries hot. Warm a frying pan slightly and place the spices onto the heat for half a minute so they toast, infusing their flavours.

Chop and begin steaming the vegetables in a pan of a little water. Don't add the quartered tomatoes until later if you prefer them to be less soft.

Dice the onion and garlic and fry in a saucepan with a little vegetable oil. Wait until the onions have turned golden brown and add the toasted spices, moving the contents of the pan around steadily to coat the onion and garlic with as much spice as possible.

Continue for a few minutes, then add a can of chopped tomatoes, constantly mixing as the contents become a flavoursome, thick paste. Add the steamed vegetables, including the liquid that remains in their dish, stirring them into the curry sauce.

Continue cooking the vegetables, continuing to stir regularly. If you haven't already, now pop the diced tomatoes into the mix along with a handful of cashew nuts. Stir in half a can of coconut milk and leave the curry to keep on bubbling so the vegetables continue to soften and soak in all the flavour.

Dice the fresh coriander and sprinkle into the curry pot before continuing to stir. Keep cooking whilst the contents becomes thicker and less runny depending on your preferred consistency. Use some of the remaining coconut milk if you need.

Boil the rice, place it on a plate, spoon the curry on top and make sure you serve the dish with lots of sauce. Place a little Fairtrade mango chutney on the side of the place as a dip for those tasty beans. Pour yourself a glass of Fairtrade orange juice (or two if you got carried away with the chilli) and enjoy.

Find out more about Fairtrade vegetables and locate your nearest stockist.