How Fairtrade changes producers’ lives

General manager Dave Livingstone.

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FAIRTRADE Fortnight starts next week – and this year it will be big in Gosport!

Gosport has been a Fairtrade Borough since 2008, and our local group is hosting an exciting event on Saturday, March 5 at the Discovery Centre, for everyone to enjoy. It happens from 10.30am until 3pm and entry is free.

‘Around the world with Fairtrade’ is a fun day for the family that will take you to eight countries without leaving Gosport.

Search for treasure in Peru and South Africa, dance to the Big Noise Samba Band, design a Fairtrade coffee mug, write a Haiku or add a line to a poem, design a Fairtrade breakfast, play games including a traditional game in Ghana and a new version of Monopoly in Colombia.

It’s a big event, and students from St Vincent College and volunteer group Loud and Proud are among those helping us.

The Co-op is backing us up too with a hamper prize and Fairtrade bananas to give away. Other local shops and cafes have donated prizes too for our quiz.

You’ll discover how Fairtrade changes the lives of poor producers, from displays and videos, and by meeting a banana farmer, Julio Mercado Cantillo, from Colombia. You can explore what it means to be a Fairtrade borough and check out what your local councillors think about Fairtrade.

Find out where to shop for Fairtrade products and which you can buy locally. Enjoy a Fairtrade drink and snack at the Bookworm Café.

This year’s theme is about food security – when we choose Fairtrade, producers can feed their own families too.

Fairtrade guarantees a minimum price that covers costs and a premium for the farmers to invest in whatever they decide their community needs – such as clean water, sustainable agricultural methods, crèche facilities or university scholarships.

As Julio says: ‘Before Fairtrade, the earnings from the farm were not enough to support my extended family and we often thought of selling the farm to bigger producers.

‘With the Fairtrade premium, food security and the quality of life in general have improved for my wife, children, grandchildren and siblings.’

I love the idea of using my consumer power to buy wonderful quality products which, at the same time, provide the producers with secure businesses and hope for the future of their communities.

Contact: Sarah Hirom at gosportfa@tiscali.co.uk or see the Gosport section on portsmouthfairtrade.org.uk/,