Giving female farmers control of their land has helped communities thrive under Fairtrade.

Fairtrade and the future of food

Cocoa, bananas and coffee could be much more difficult to find in future as farmers struggle with climate change and low prices - that's why I support Fairtrade, writes chef Melissa Hemsley.

Did you know there’s a risk that cocoa, bananas, and coffee could be much more difficult to find on shop shelves in the future? That’s because climate change is making it harder and harder for farmers overseas to grow crops like these that we love to consume in the UK.

Spices like vanilla – which already costs more than silver per lb – as well as cinnamon, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, saffron and many others are also at risk due to unstable climate conditions. These are ingredients loved by amateur cooks and professional chefs alike, me included.

Combined with deeply unfair trade systems and rising costs of living, the communities growing these crops are being pushed to the brink. In fact, most farmers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean don’t earn enough to meet their household needs, because the price they earn for their crops is far too low. That means they cannot afford to fight the harmful effects of climate change, like nasty crop diseases, prolonged dry spells, and more intense storms. This simply isn’t right.

But despite the challenging situation many farmers and agricultural workers find themselves in, there is a solution. Fairtrade is a simple but effective way to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow and create the things we love.  By choosing Fairtrade when you shop, as well as getting quality products, you are also investing in the farmers behind them.

Farmers don’t just need, they also deserve fair pay, so they can thrive and plan for the future, and cope with the ongoing climate and cost-of-living crises. Through Fairtrade, farmers have the security of a ‘Minimum Price’, as well as a ‘Fairtrade Premium’ – an additional sum to invest in community, business, and environmental projects of their choice. This means they can protect their communities and their crops, while being kind to our planet, too.

I first started supporting Fairtrade in 2016 and I’ve been involved with Fairtrade Fortnight ever since, promoting the amazing way Fairtrade works with farmers worldwide to ensure they receive a fair price for their goods.

In 2018, I was lucky enough to spend time with some women in Kenya who farm coffee beans and saw first-hand the impact Fairtrade has on their lives and communities. Each had been given 50 coffee bushes by their husbands – a huge decision as the men owned all the assets and land and controlled the income. The women told me that since then, they have felt more empowered, happier and have more peace in their families alongside a thriving community. It really was an eye-opening trip and brought home to me just how much Fairtrade can give back.

The cost-of-living crisis is squeezing the finances of many of us around the UK, too. But shopping sustainably doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket – there’s an abundance of Fairtrade certified products available at affordable prices in shops nationwide.

My hot tip for a more sustainable lifestyle? Choose Fairtrade when you can.

Fairtrade Fortnight – the Fairtrade Foundation’s annual campaign – kicks off on 27 February.

As part of the fortnight, Fairtrade has set up an ‘Endangered Aisle’, a pop-up store highlighting the supermarket staples most at risk from being endangered in the future, due to the climate crisis. Find out more here.


Leave a Reply

In case you missed it

Receive the Digital Digest

Food, Farming, Fairness, every Friday.

Learn more

About us

Find out more about Wicked Leeks and our publisher, organic veg box company Riverford.

Learn more