Higher Education Funding Council for England

Appreciating the value of Fairtrade

Thursday 20-03-2014 - 09:23
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All of us try to support Fairtrade products whenever we can, and our ethical supply chain work at NUS helps students’ unions to ensure that the products they sell are responsibly sourced.

It’s great to know that producers are getting fair compensation for their work when we buy Fairtrade, but how much do we really know about what producers have to do to provide the food we eat? And do we really appreciate how agriculture in the developing world is threatened by climate change?

At the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, the University of Bedfordshire Students’ Union reconnected students with the origins of their food, and provided education around the work which goes into what we eat.

“We wanted to highlight the link between the effort involved with growing your own fruit and vegetables, and the comparison to what a farmer in the developing world would be paid for their day’s work”, explains project lead Scott.

Aside from demonstrating the huge economic injustices rife throughout the food production system – particularly across the global south – the day was also about exploring the threat of climate change has on agriculture in developing countries.

With students building raised beds, moving the topsoil and compost into place, and finally sowing a range of seeds, volunteers also had to consider the importance of sudden changes in weather, and how to cultivate crops in the long term – particularly when you’re economically dependent on your harvest.

“It changed my attitude towards different foods and Fairtrade products, as now I know how much effort is put in food production”, explained one student volunteer Hajra. “Moreover, now I am careful towards avoiding wastage of food and going for Fairtrade products. Growing my own food is a great idea that I am thinking to work on in future”

It’s great that more people are taking ownership over the food system. But it’s equally important to reconnect with the farmers who produce our food, and get a real understanding for what fair compensation for their work should be.

At the University of Bedfordshire Students’ Union, Students’ Green Fund is promoting sustainable food production, while also educating students on the importance of the economic justice provided by Fairtrade.

                                                       

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