3.5 million cups of tea – that’s how many cups of tea are served in National Trust properties all over the country each year. Huge potential for improving the lives of tea farmers in developing countries if that tea was sourced from Fairtrade farmers and cooperatives.
That’s the focus of Swindon Fairtrade Coalition’s Trustea Campaign – to persuade the National Trust to switch to Fairtrade tea. The campaign was launched toward the end of last year and has so far attracted nearly 500 signatures – people calling for the National Trust to do the right thing.
Members of the Swindon Fairtrade Coalition, promoting the Trustea campaign outside the National Trust’s HQ in Swindon in January’s snow. Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
So why is it important that the National Trust switch to Fairtrade tea? The Fairtrade Mark is the only one that guarantees farmers a fair price for their product and pays a community premium for every sale.
It changes peoples lives, as Silver Kasoro-Atwoki states: "Thanks to Fairtrade, we have changed our agricultural techniques which have improved the quality and quantity of our teas. We have opened new access roads to benefit all in the community, assisted in providing primary health care through construction of health units and added a new block to a local secondary school. Fairtrade is significantly contributing towards the social improvement of our community and providing a better future for our youngsters.’
Silver is one of the local tea farmers and businessmen who are the driving force behind the Mabale enterprise in Uganda, using their experience and know-how to build up the organisation’s operational and commercial capacity.
Rajah Bannerjee, from the Makaibari Tea Estate in India tells a wonderful story that is living proof that sustainable agriculture can succeed commercially and benefit the environment and local communities. Gone are the regimented lines of tea bushes, instead the tea grows amid fruit and bamboo, herbs and clover, the soil is dark and soft, fed with the organic compost prepared on the estate.
He said: "Before, nature was destroyed, trees were cut down, there were huge problems with erosion and many animals died due to the insecticides. Now, tea bushes have been integrated into the six tiers of plants that form a biodynamic ecosystem that enriches the health of the soil, checks erosion and encourages a wealth of birds, butterflies and insects and Makaibari is home to two Bengal tigers, leopards, barking deer and hornbill.
The Trustea petition, together with a Resolution for the change, will be handed over to Tim Howard, Food and Beverage Development Manager for the National Trust at the STEAM Museum, Swindon on Saturday 9 March.
The event is being hosted by Cllr Mick Bray, Mayor of Swindon with Rob Buckland, MP for Swindon South, Gavin Jones, Swindon Borough Council Chief Executive and Rt Rev’d Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, all of whom are lending their support for the campaign.
The support already received should ensure the resolution is placed on the Agenda of the National Trust AGM to be held on 26th October 2013 in Cardiff.
Express your support for the campaign at www.swindonfairtrade.org or contact Barbara Aftelak, Chair of the Swindon Fairtrade Coalition on 01793 536815.