The first Fairtrade Fortnight was held in 1997 in Scotland and has since become an international campaign to create awareness of the plight of small farmers in the developing world and how the consumption habits of richer countries can help or hurt them. Consumers and retailers participate as a way to promote fair trade with activities range from food tastings and fashion shows to media events and petitions for change in public policy.
2013 Fairtrade Fortnight Dates
- Australia – May 4 – May 19
- Canada – May 1 – May 15
- Ireland – February 25 – March 10
- United Kingdom – February 25 – March 10
- New Zealand – May 4 – May 19
Universities provide lectures and other learning activities focused on fair trade issues. Athletes speak on the issue of child labor in the creation of soccer balls. Primary schools use arts and crafts such as creating “mug hugs” (mug holders) as a way to get kids talking about fair trade. Churches and religious groups participate with worship activities focused on justice and social events to raise awareness. In addition to raising awareness and fundraising, many activities are focused on pressuring corporations to adhere to fair labor practices.
In the UK, the Fairtrade Foundation is using Fairtrade Fortnight as a focal point for a petition calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to advocate on behalf of smallholder farmers at the 2013 G8 Summit. The success of fair trade as a grass roots movement has proven that consumers and voters care about this issue. The G8 is encouraged to consider fair trade as an important part of the global economic system.
Smallholder farmers product the majority of the world’s food but are considered most at risk to economic forces outside of their own control. Fair trade organizations develop long term relationships with these small farmers, providing stability through longer term contracts and price minimums. By supporting smallholder farmers, governments and consumers can actually protect their own long term interests by ensuring that the world’s food supply remains secure.