Thought for the day 23 February

23 Fairtrade Fortnight
Yesterday marked the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual focus on trying to create Fairtrade arrangements around the world – focussing particularly on remuneration and working conditions for small-scale farmers and manufacturers. Over the past few months we have heard a lot in the news about ‘Free Trade’, and have probably learned a lot that we didn’t know before: the paperwork involved in transporting goods across international borders, the tariffs and quotas applied to goods exported/imported, subsidies applied to the production of certain foods or goods, measures designed to ‘protect’ home producers from foreign competition, the desire of larger companies to export goods or services to overseas markets, different ‘standards’ in different countries. We have seen and heard from businesses here and in Northern Ireland about the difficulties of operating a new way of working. For many small businesses in the Developing World these are challenges they face all the time. Most of us like a bargain – whether that means food, clothing or whatever (and at the minute many, who are struggling to cope financially, have to pursue the cheapest price available). But every ‘two for the price of one’ usually means a lower return for the original producer. With Cop-26 coming to Glasgow in November, we are reminded of the impact of Climate Change globally. But some communities around the world are having to contend with the effects all the time: unreliable rain, flooding, drought, pests and plant diseases. It affects the ability to produce certain crops – including coffee in Ethiopia and Central America (affecting us, as well as the farmers). Fairtrade Fortnight this year is particularly focussing on the impact of Climate Change on Fairtrade. Further information may be obtained at www.fairtrade.org.uk/

Lord, many of us don’t know much about the complexities of international trade, but we have been given an insight to it in recent months. We remember farmers and producers in the Developing World who are struggling with unfair trading conditions and with the effects of Climate Change. We pray that you will inspire world leaders to remember the needs of small farmers and producers, to strive for fair trading arrangements around the world, and to address the issues that could curb Climate Change. Help us to remember Fairtrade when we go shopping

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