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Fairtrade Growers Visit Imperial

Feb 26 2007 11:31
Ashley Brown
Free Fairtrade coffee will be available in the MDH and Ante room on the 27th February, as Imperial receives a visit from the Fairtrade foundation and some Fairtrade growers.
Fatima Lopez, a coffee taster at Prodecoop

Imperial is showing its support for Fairtrade by receiving a visit from the Fairtrade foundation, the focus of which will be a visit by Fairtrade growers. Over Christmas the College changed its catering outlets to include Fairtrade products, with coffee from the SCR and departmental common rooms now all branded Cafédirect.

Imperial is committed to achieving "Fairtrade University" status, which requires that Fairtrade alternatives are available for all products sold, with refreshments provided at meetings also being Fairtrade. In order to achieve this goal ICU must also follow the same guidelines: a paper on Fairtrade will be considered at the next Council.

Growers Visit

Fairtrade growers in Uganda

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, which takes place from 26th February to 11th March, tomorrow (27th Feb) will see a visit by Fatima Lopez, a coffee taster from Nicaragua, who will give a talk on the effect Fairtrade has had on her community. Before this free coffee and Fairtrade snacks will be available in the MDH and Ante Room, with a panel discussion after the talk including various people involved with Fairtrade.

Imperial is one of only two universities to receive this visit, the other being Oxford Brookes which was the first Fairtrade University.

The day will proceed as follows:

10:00-11:30: Coffee morning with film footage in the MDH & Ante Room, with free coffee and Fairtrade snacks for all

12:00-13:30: Introduction from Fatima on her life in Nicaragua and how the Fairtrade way of working has benefited her and her community

Followed by: Panel discussion with Q&As, including:

  • Fatima Lopez, Head Coffee Taster, Prodecoop, Nicaragua
  • Robert Ekiku, Group Manager, Igara Growers Tea Factor, Bushenyi, Ugana
  • Martin Hill, Head of Commerical Relations, Fairtrade Foundation
  • Jane Neary, Head of Catering, Imperial College
  • Kirsty Patterson, Fairtrade Steering Group, Imperial College
  • Adrian O'Hare, Peros Ltd

If you have questions on the Faitrade process, Imperial's route to Faitrade University status or anything else Fairtrade-related then come along at 12:00 to hear about it and ask some questions.

Fairtrade Fortnight

A number of other Fairtrade events will take place during Fairtrade fortnight, including:

  • Wednesday 28th Feb & 7th Mar, 12pm-2pm: "Beat the Goalie" Competition - Jon Matthews and Stephen Brown will don Fairtrade gloves, with Fairtrade prizes if you manage to kick the ball at past their heads.
  • Saturday 3rd March: Beit Hall Bakeoff - Teams of Beit Hall residents will bake items using Fairtrade ingredients, with the winning entry being recreated in the MDH for a week.

Many more things are happening, check the Fairtrade Society Website for more details.

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Discussion about “Fairtrade Growers Visit Imperial”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 26 2007 17:34


Thursday 1st March, Union Dining Hall

  • Buy your Fairtrade Knickers, Games, Clothes, Soft Furnishings and Accessories from 12pm!
  • Free coffee available and a DVD on "White Gold: The True Cost of Cotton" will be shown.


Friday 9th March, Physics Level 8 Common Room

  • Lots of wine and cheese and music and people.
  • Members ?2, Non Members ?4


Add your name to our petition to support the Fairtrade University Policy (mentioned above) at the next council meeting.

If you would like to get more involved in Fairtrade Fortnight we would love some people to help out on our stalls! Please email me (link above) to find out more about events and to offer your support.

Feb 26 2007 17:35

I hate I when it leaves big gaps when I press enter. Meh!

Feb 26 2007 17:40

Fairtrade isn't fair.


Feb 26 2007 17:44

You should come along tomorrow! We could do with people like you asking questions.

5. ...   
Feb 26 2007 21:18

Why waster money buying fairtrade sugar? It's bad for the environment to transport sugar thousands of miles across the world when there is a perfect supply of sugar already in the East of the UK!

(,,.aspx ) and ( )

6. Rosie   
Feb 27 2007 01:25

without bothering to follow the link...

I think the arguement goes:

we consume a hell of a lot more sugar than we produce in the UK. It is therefore widely accepted that buying local produce is better, but when this has been exhausted the fairtrade alternative is the next best thing.

But it's bad for your health to eat lots of sugar anyway, so just stop!

Feb 27 2007 01:35

Interesting you should ask that as it is a concern I raised myself at the Fairtrade Universities Conference a few weeks back. I also intend to hold a debate on the Fairtrade versus Environment issue some time next term so watch this space. In the meantime I will try to answer the question as best I can with the limited information I have available. Martin Hill of the Fairtrade Foundation will be better equipped to answer this tomorrow but here goes:

Firsty, Sugar Beet is eniterly different to Sugar Cane. Sugar Beet Production can only amount to one sixth the total production of Sugarcane in one year (approximately 1,324 million tons). As sugar cane is more commonly favoured by consumers and more widely produced (mostly in Brazil) it is only right that we should expect it to be fairly traded.

Secondly, I am aware that there are competitive Fairtrade Sugar beet producers. While it is entirely possible for this crop to be grown in England I believe the situation is similar to that of Fairtrade Honey. England can only supply 1/3 of the total demand for honey. Therefore the other 2/3 must be imported. There is no reason why that other 2/3 shouldn't be Fairtrade.

Thirdly, Fairtrade has a strict environmental policy. Not only do they encourage 'best environmental practise' in farming methods (eg. rotating crops, diversifying the produce and preventing over use); they also ship their products rather than fly them (for everything except roses). The result is that a Fairtrade Tomato from half way around the world (where they are naturally grown) has less envrionmental impact than a greenhouse cultivated tomato poduced a few miles away. The energy issue with transporting produce internally between supermarkets is closely equivalent to that of importing by ship (or so I was told).

Discalimer: I don't know if you can get Fairtrade Tomatos. It was the first thing which came into my head when I thought 'greenhouse'.

8. ...   
Feb 27 2007 20:34

Thanks for your reply Kirsty. The fairtrade website says:


High tariffs on sugar imports protect EU sugar beet farmers and sugar refiners at the expense of farmers in developing countries


So they are saying they favour 'fairtrade' sugar beet over EU sugar beet. They aren't treating it like filling the gap.

9. ...   
Feb 27 2007 20:43

And, according to the british sugar site, sugar is already exported from the UK. So they definately aren't bridging a supply gap.

Feb 28 2007 13:02

Ashley, what happened to the Fairtrade Fortnight banner?

Feb 28 2007 13:14

Sport Imperial paid for a Varsity banner, which was crowded out by the bananas. It'll go back up when the ad has had time to have an effect.

Fairtrade isn't about charity, you know ;)

Feb 28 2007 13:34

Not sure that entirley makes sense but...

Feb 28 2007 13:37

The Fairtrade banner made the Varsity one hard to spot. The banner which paid money got priority...

Feb 28 2007 13:46

Yeah that bit I understood it was the charity bit that I didn't...

15. Sean   
Feb 28 2007 16:29

The fairtrade thing is a good idea but i own a fruit and veg shop in Devon and i find it hard to get any fairtrade produce which i find unfair and put me off as all the supermarkets seem to corner the market.

i hope someone will help me in this matter

16. Sean   
Feb 28 2007 16:31

kirsty do you know anyone who might be able to help me on this matter

Mar 01 2007 02:55

Sean, we are having a similar problem at IC. Recently Jane Neary and I attended a conference in Leeds and spoke to procurers at other universities. It is nearly impossible for 'smaller businesses' such as universities to get a hold on the supply when bigger companies such as Sainsbury's decide all of a sudden to swap their bananas entirely to Fairtrade. We have found it impossible to source fresh fruit for promotion during Fairtrade Fortnight (despite Jane being very persuasive). We had grand plans for Wine and Grapes...

I suppose we can't whinge too much though. While supermarkets grabbing the total Fairtrade Market in fresh fruit and veg currently is an issue for smaller businesses and makes procurment virtually impossible, it is a wonderful eye opener to see the demand for Fairtrade far exceeding the current supply. There is scope to expand and I know mechanisms are in place. Hopefully we should see the market opening up a bit in the near future.

Mar 01 2007 14:02

Breaking News...

Channel 4 News will be filming at todays fair trade bazaar as part of Fairtrade fortnight coverage. If you want to get your mug on TV, while perusing some high quality fair trade products (from knickers to chess sets) go to:

UNION DINING HALL (1st floor Beit)

3:05pm - TODAY!

And bring your friends...

Mar 01 2007 14:15

Ooh, chess sets in the Union. Are they for sale and if so, how many do we think people will buy?

20. Sean   
Mar 01 2007 19:58

Kirsty don't you think the supermarket has toomuch power over produce and also we have been in the fruit game for 26 years and fairtrade is an good idea but how much do the growers get and also why don't people in this country look at the growers here as it is getting harder to source local or even english produce as the big supermarkets can buy it cheaper abroad.

Feb 27 2008 14:36


Feb 28 2008 02:26

isn't the union meant to act in the interests of the students?

why is it in the interest of students to buy fairtrade products?

also if it is in the interest of students to have an 'ethical' union, then why don't we also have a rigid anti-war stance?

Feb 28 2008 09:06

You appear to be derogatory Question in your questioning. The Union is meant to act in the interest of students (that's the easy one). The Union is not buying Fair Trade products to sell at this fair if that is what you are thinking and I'm pretty sure the Fair Trade Society organised it so it is all kosher, just as we had a Green Week highlighting Environmental issues spearheaded by ESoc (we also have an Environmental Policy). Our university currently offers a large variety of Fair Trade products (having Fair Trade status) so in that respect the Union is not leading the way. College obviously see it in their interests to have a Fair Trade agenda, are we so arrogant to find them foolish?

What is in the interest of students is a difficult idea, and generally people on this messageboard take a narrow-minded, conservative view. Fair Trade does not directly affect students just as Global Warming will not affect you much in your short time as a student here. However, we as students are in danger of not being respected as an intellectual entity and often the negative image of students (such as that you'll find destroying Reynolds or the Union on a Wednesday) drowns out that image of the socially conscious and intellectual student. Fair Trade is basic ethics really (non-EU farmers get s**ted on through protectionist policy, they need help) where students can be leaders in demonstrating ideas such as social responsibility, and dare I say it, charity. Here is also a way in which Fair Trade affects students, and not by current students, I mean future ones. Current protectionist policy depresses any local wealth in developing world countries, Fair Trade allows there to be more wealth thus help them develop. In the future there may be students who made it to Imperial from these communities and thus our actions have helped them. This is fairly contrived but I'd argue student or otherwise, it is a basic human need to occasionally give a s**t about the bigger picture.

Also, Fair Trade like I said is a pretty basic ethical issue. However, bringing up anti-war is just plain glib. Ethically, war creates a sliding scale where the notion of a 'just war' plays havoc. I am a pacifist, and therefore am anti-war. However, some believe in the right to defence and retaliation as necessary for survival, something which is in everyone's interest but not anti-war. Also, going to war with Hitler was ultimately a 'good thing'. Opposing war has been seen by the Union to not be in the students' interest possibly because it might compromise those who want to have careers for BAE and the Military (the cynic in me says). But I think it is also because it appears to be so fruitless and painful opposing a government who constantly legislate against protests, that the idea of having any opinion of something at national, not just student level seems to be a pointless task where time could be spent on better issues. Despite the fact that if we are at war, we are all affected. It depresses me to think what kind of students you want us to be Question: occasionally drunk, apathetic and annoyed at bar prices going up.

Feb 28 2008 09:25

cool :)

Feb 28 2008 10:16

Not much I can really add to Matty (except that in this case it is Fairtrade, all one word and it isn't charity but we all know what you meant...oh and this was last year...)

In terms of Union Policy: if you read the Environmental Policy and the Fairtrade Policy then you will see that they are very careful to outline their relevance to students. Other policies brought to Council may not be passed because they do not give a reason why they are relevant to students. Either that or resolve to support or take actions that we cannot, bound by law, spend public money on.

Feb 28 2008 10:28

Sorry, I'm not a fan of the allonewordmakinggermanness. I meant charity in the moralistic sense rather than actually being classed as a charity in the Charity Commission.

I only just found the Fairtrade Policy on the Union website (needs to be easier to search for those things - I couldn't find it when writing the above) and I saw your mention of a petition above so questioned whether it got approved.

Also Fairtrade is part of the SCC so naturally I love them.

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