Anglesey Fairtrade, Island Offers Ethical Products

The isle of Anglesey is recognised as a Fairtrade county, with the local council aiming to offer fairtrade products where it provides its various services across the island.

Now the Anglesey Fairtrade phenomena grows with the island town of Menai Bridge about to become officially a fairtrade town.

Whether it's coffee, chocolate, tea or bananas, fairtrade products are becoming more popular in retail outlets of all sizes, from the local Tesco store to small charity shops such as local church organisations.

During Fairtrade week a number of events have been held across the country over the last week of February and first week of March 2008, including a coffee morning and presentation by farmers from Ghana at the Community Hall in Menai Bridge.

Fairtrade is working because it changes the lives of families across the world by helping them build a better future for themselves.

Here in Menai Bridge and across Anglesey more and more people are coming to see how they too can help make a real difference.

And the steering group led by Liz Perkins announced that Menai Bridge will be able to declare official title of Fairtrade town by early May.

Meanwhile, Duncan Rees, from the Co-operative Group Wales Region, said during the meeting that when a critical mass of towns and communities achieve this status in Wales, then the Welsh Assembly Government can declare Wales a Fairtrade country.

According to the Fairtrade organisation £290 million of products were sold in the UK in 2006 and this figure is growing by over 40% every year.

Over 80 people attending the Menai Bridge coffee morning heard from Comfort, one of the two Ghanaian farmers who attended the event, about how Fairtrade is benefiting their communities directly.

She described the process of harvesting the cocoa, first using a machete to cut the pods from the tree.

The cocoa pods are then taken and split, and the beans inside are laid on banana skins and then another layer of banana skins to completely cover them.

This begins the fermentation process which lasts seven days, during which time the colour and internal properties of the cocoa bean change.

After this period the beans are spread on special mats and exposed to the elements before they are delivered to market.

Comfort also referred to how the weather can affect the crop yield. If there is too much rainfall the pods are damaged and become too soft and difficult to handle.

Equally, if there is insufficient rain there will be fewer cocoa pods.The mean cocoa season is from October to April, then there is a break, followed by a shorter season, June to July.

There was an opportunity for local people to buy some of the ethical products which were provided by the Co-operative Group, including various types of chocolate and coffee and tea.

Looking forward to the future on Anglesey, there are groups in communities such as Holyhead, Amlwch and Llangefni who are keen to get their towns the Fairtrade status.

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