For the first time in a decade the UN have reported an increase in hunger around the world.

The report states that 815 million people were hungry in 2016, 38 million more than the previous year. Climate change and an increase in conflict across the globe are cited as two of the major contributing factors.

However, whilst war rages and storms wreak havoc, communities can be strengthened to withstand the impact.

 

Empowering farmers

 

The Fairtrade movement has been active for around 25 years, securing a minimum price for goods purchased from farmers in developing nations along with the provision of additional premiums to bolster community resilience.

"Whilst war rages and storms wreak havoc, communities can be strengthened to withstand the impact."

“There are clear links between food security and Fairtrade,” says Cheryl McGechie, Director of Public Engagement at the Fairtrade Foundation. “We help farmers get a more sustainable income so they can feed their families and invest in things like clean water. Farmers are also democratically organised to spend money within their communities on things like education, healthcare facilities and to improve farming mechanisms.”

 

Building strong communities

 

Ms McGechie believes that the Fairtrade system gives communities not only the resources to feed themselves and their families on a day-to-say basis, but also enables them to survive times of uncertainty and instability. Cocoa and coffee famers, who live on a largely hand to mouth basis, frequently have to endure periods of low productivity, which are often characterised by hunger. “With Fairtrade, farmers can save both food and money to help them get through these periods,” explains Ms McGechie. “In some cases we’ve seen farmers who are up to a third better off.”

 

Market tension

 

Despite all the challenges and turbulence of the last year which has seen the grocery market contract and the pound plummet shoppers, are still supporting fairtrade to deliver a better deal for the farmers who grow some of our favourite ingredients. Growth in some of our most iconic products such as bananas and coffee have continued, whilst new additions show the continued desire to make trade fair. Gold continues to grow from its small beginnings, whilst more and more shoppers are raising a glass to Fairtrade wines.

"New additions like gold continue to grow, and more hoppers are raising a glass to fairtrade wine."

All this uncertainty only fuels the argument for consumers to shop more wisely. “When you buy Fairtrade, you’re not just giving a better deal to farmers, you’re sending a clear message to businesses too,” concludes Ms McGechie. The Fairtrade movement was largely born from community campaigners exerting their purchasing power; as global inequality continues to grow, the way we shop has never been more important.

 

Meet Julio Mercado Cantillo:

Julio is a smallholder banana farmer and founder member of the Banafrucoop in Colombia. Read how his life changed after becoming Fairtrade certified.