Newcastle MP backs Fairtrade cocoa farmers campaign

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fairtrade, has met with farmers from the Ivory Coast, Rwanda and the Dominican Republic at an event held in Parliament to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.

Each year, Fairtrade Fortnight sees communities, schools, businesses and faith groups across the country holding events in support of farmers and producers from developing countries. This year, Fairtrade Fortnight is being held from 25th February–10th March, with the Fairtrade Foundation’s campaign She Deserves a Living Income shining a light on the poverty facing cocoa farmers in West Africa – where 60% of cocoa is grown – who earn as little as 74p per day, and are unable to pay for essentials like food, send their children to school or buy medicine if they fall sick.

Catherine said:

‘Campaigning for Fairtrade as a student was how I first became active in politics, so this issue has always been very close to my heart.  

‘I am really pleased to reiterate my support for Fairtrade Fortnight, and particularly the She Deserves a Living Income campaign, which – in the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8th March – celebrates the hard work of women cocoa farmers and calls on all of us to do more to increase their incomes, including by buying Fairtrade chocolate wherever possible.’

A new report from the Fairtrade Foundation, launched at the event in Parliament, reveals women cocoa farmers often carry the greatest burden and yet get the least reward. It calls on the Government and businesses to ensure farmers earn living incomes by 2030 in line with the UN’s Global Goals to end poverty.

Awa Traoré, who is also the director of Fairtrade cocoa co-operative, CAYAT, gave an inspirational speech about how a living income of £1.86 could transform the lives of cocoa farmers, and why it is vital to empower women. She said:

‘Women are very important in the development process. If you want to change the lives of producers, you have to focus on women. In our community we use the Fairtrade premium to redress the balance: to train women, to teach them how to read and write to empower them and we have developed activities that create income for them.