Wales Fair Trade Country Campaign: Anglesey Schools Conference
As part of the Wales Fair Trade Country campaign, a conference was held for primary school children on Anglesey on Friday 7th March, at the end of Fairtrade Fortnight.
All primary schools on the island were invited to send a "car-full" of pupils with an accompanying teacher to take part in the conference, held at the Amlwch Leisure Centre.
Albert Owen MP and Ieuan Wyn Jones AM were present to welcome the pupils, and the guest speaker from South Africa, Mr Patrick Jones.
Patrick Jones is a director and key member of the Community Trust at Lisbon Estate Farm in South Africa.
He described life on the farm to the children, and some of the dangers faced by the workers as the farm is next to the Kruger National Park and some of the wild animals ignore the boundary and roam through the farm.
In particular there was a male hippo who had taken a fancy to a female hippo that lived at the opposite end of the farm and workers had to be careful not to get in his way when he was going to visit her.
The farm, which specialises in grapefruit, oranges and mangoes, is owned by the community and its workers.
It employs 170 permanent workers, together with 300 temporary employees who work during harvesting times.
In 2007 the Co-op in the UK agreed a deal to purchase grapefruit from the Lisbon Estate in accordance with Fair trade standards that have just been established for grapefruit.
As well as receiving a guaranteed Fairtrade price for the grapefruit that covers the cost of growing them, the growers receive an additional social premium.
The workers intend using their first Fairtrade premium to open a crèche for their children, so they can be confident of safe, good quality childcare while they work.
They also hope to build a school nearer to the farm as at present the children have to walk for 2 hours in each direction each day to get to school!
For many this means getting up at 4:00 am as school starts at 07:30, said Mr Jones.
Mr Jones told the children that he had been travelling around Wales for the last two weeks talking to adults and school children about how his community hoped to benefit from Fair trade.
In the past they have had to sell the fruit through agents who used all sorts of tricks to avoid paying for the fruit they sold.
Sometimes, instead of receiving payment from the agent, they would get a bill for all the expenses the agent said he had incurred while selling the fruit.
The price had been so low it had not covered the agent’s costs – so the farm workers got nothing at all but more debt!
He said he was looking forward to when he returns to the farm as he would be able to tell the workers he had met so many people who wanted to know that the producers were getting a fair deal, and this is so different to what they were used to.
As well as listening to Patrick Jones, the children took part in three workshops, learning a Fairtrade Calypso, making musical instruments, and a Fairtrade Quiz session run by senior pupils from Sir Thomas Jones School in Amlwch.
As well as instructing the younger children about Fair trade, the senior pupils benefited as their role was recorded as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification they are undertaking.
While the pupils were busy with their workshops there was a separate workshop for the teachers to give them a broader understanding about Fair trade to take back to their schools.
So now all those present at this conference can take the positive message out to all corners of the island and beyond, and help make Wales the first Fair Trade country in the world.
(thanks to Tony McNicholl, Trearddur Bay for this account)
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