Monday, 14 July 2008

Leaving the Fairtrade Foundation Board

I have just finished 6 years as a member of the Board of the Fairtrade Foundation representing the NFWI who were founder members of the FT movement in 1992.

When I first joined the NFWI Board of Trustees I was asked if I would be their representative on the FT Board which I readily agreed to do. I knew a little about FT and what the mark stood for as I had been my Federation ACWW Rep and always included in my talks a little bit about Fairtrade.

The number of FT items in the stores has increased tremendously in the last 6 years, from tea, coffee and chocolate to FT cotton T shirts, nuts, honey, beer and flowers to name but a few.

There have been many highlights for me during my time with the Fairtrade Foundation. I have met some extremely committed people. Harriet Lamb, FT Director, a bit like a whirlwind and with her energy and enthusiasm for her job she leaves anyone she meets breathless. All the staff are 100% behind the FT Mark and what it stands for and I have seen the amount of time and effort given by the Board Members, Certification Committee and all the volunteers who work so hard especially during Fairtrade Fortnight. Maybe one of my greatest pleasures has been to meet and to work with the Patron of the Fairtrade Foundation, George Alagiah, who spends many hours of his time promoting FT.

When I was on holiday in South Africa in November 2003 I was able to visit some FT producers. I saw Fairtrade grapes, in Kanoneil, where there was a large grape producer who would be supplying Tesco Stores with FT grapes for Christmas. In Uppington there was a dried fruit concern, a small co-operative called Eksteenskull Vine Fruit who supply dried fruit for Traidcraft’s Geobars. In Citrusdal they were growing grapes and producing Fairtrade wine. It was great to see Fairtrade at the producer end and to see what difficult circumstances some of these people work under and how much they appreciate the difference it makes to them to be part of the organisation.

I am sad in many ways that Board Members are restricted to no more than two terms of three years but I look back on my time with Fairtrade as a most rewarding and fulfilling experience, thanks to everyone who is part of the organisation.

Fairtrade has grown considerably during the time I have been involved. As we get more and more FT products in the shops can we look forward to all bananas sold in UK supermarkets being Fairtrade - not 1 in 4 as it is now and what about more chocolate?

Janice Langley