A Fair Future?
October 2014 celebrated the 20th anniversary of Fair Trade in the UK. The Fair Future conference was learning from the last two decades representing 1.4 million workers worldwide and aiming to build a fairer future together. Networking amongst hundreds of professionals and hearing from Rt Hon Justine Greening MP and CEO Harriet Lamb who are working towards trade justice was inspirational. Plus we received a Fair Trade goody bag filled with tea, soap and Divine chocolate!
However it was obvious that more needs to be done to better represent Muslims working towards such ethical values to be involved in such platforms. I raised the question about whether enough is being done to diversify and encourage participation amongst faith based communities. A direct answer was not provided, however raising this idea amongst a room full of influential pioneers has been a great way to embark upon the adventure with the #BuyPalestinian campaign and online ethical shop.
Earlier in 2014 I was honoured to have personally met two producer farmers who work with Fair Trade and hear directly how the concept of co-operatives has helped build their livelihoods. Alexus; a banana farmer from Columbia who came to the UK earlier this year and spoke about his experiences at a MADE Café. He continuously thanked the small audience in the basement of The Crepe Café for supporting the movement which has been life changing for his family and community. I was embarrassed to think that I don’t even know the price value of a banana in the UK. It really occurred to me that this is such a small change which I myself can make as a consumer and have since pledged to only buy Fair Trade bananas.
I also met Taysir Arbasi who is Zaytoun’s Project Manager in Palestine. Zaytoun are currently supporting over 2000 farmer-families in 25 villages in the West Bank. Taysir says
“Behind every Medjoul date we produce is a community and a family. Selling our dates in the UK means everything to us. It means people are listening. It means that people are celebrating our dignity and supporting our future. We are Palestine”
Looking into the future of Fair Trade, we collectively need more UK businesses to expand to sustainably support entrepreneurship amongst farmers. For anyone who has ventured on growing your own fruit or veg in the garden, you can appreciate how much effort it takes! The reality is that farming is a skill which our three meals a day are dependent upon. The challenge was given to the audience to collaborate more which we hope to see materialise in the years to come. Let’s become the next generation who are more proactive in our response to Global Poverty.
I believe that we are very disconnected as a society to the people and efforts behind the food which we consume. We must take care with our choices as there are people in our shopping trolleys. There is a large scope of potential to reconnect and be the next generation of ethical shoppers driven by Islamic principles of justice.
“Give full measure and full weight in justice, and wrong not people in respect of their goods” [Qur’an, chapter 11, verse 85]
With over 2.5 million Muslims living in the UK, our numbers and collective action has the potential to make a powerful difference. So take the pledge to buy ethically from the MADE Shop and #BuyPalestinian to build the future of Palestine.
By Zarreen Hadadi, Operations Manager at MADE Shop