Secondary school students and Fairtrade campaigners from West Yorkshire attended the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fairtrade, joining more than 30 MPs from across the UK.
International Development Minister Desmond Swayne spoke at the event, which also marked Fairtrade Fortnight (February 29-March 13).
Conservative MP for New Forest West, Mr Swayne explained why he was backing the group.
“Nearly two-thirds of people living in extreme poverty depend on smallholder farming to get by. UK support is helping them farm more effectively, prevent diseases and cope with the effects of climate change.
“Just as importantly, we are making sure they can get their goods to market and get a fair price for them when they do.
“This Fairtrade Fortnight is a timely reminder of just where the food on our dining table comes from and the role that governments, businesses and consumers have to play in making sure that farmers get a fair deal for what they grow.
“When they do, they can not only earn an income, feed their families and send their children to school, but can also help strengthen their country’s economy – which is firmly in Britain’s national interest.”
This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign is highlighting the hunger faced by millions of farmers in developing countries who, despite working hard to grow some of the UK’s favourite foods, do not earn enough to know where their next meal is coming from.
Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax and co-chairman of the APPG, said: “It is exciting to be launching this important new group in Parliament. MPs from across the political spectrum have come together to show their support for Fairtrade and to discuss how we can work together to promote it in the future.” Another West Yorkshire MP, Jason McCartney (Conservative, Colne Valley) who is also co-chairing the group, said: “The APPG will act as a forum to promote Fairtrade here in Parliament and across the nation. I’m proud that our many supporters include local Fairtrade organisations such as Holme Valley Fairtrade from my constituency.”
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foun-dation, added: “Communities have always driven the Fairtrade movement, by using the pound in their pockets to make a positive change and by campaigning for better, fairer and more sustainable trade regimes enabling people to lift themselves out of poverty.
“Establishing this APPG is a huge achievement and provides a chance for public, parliamentarians and busin-esses to work together and make a difference to the lives of farmers around the world.”