Forty pupils and ten teachers from ten local Primary and Post-Primary Schools in Mid Ulster attended a schools event this week to mark Fairtrade Fortnight which takes place until March 11.
The event, organised by Mid Ulster District Council, took place at Hill of The O’Neill, Dungannon and the theme was ‘Meet the Producer’.
Students had the opportunity to hear from Fairtrade producer and Chairman of WOFFA (WSSS Organic Farmers Fairtrade Association), John Joseph, farmer of coffee and spices in India.
Mr Joseph, founder of WOFFA, an ordained Priest and qualified lawyer, gave participants an interesting insight into rural life in his native community and how Fairtrade played a role in changing the lives of Indian farmers and producers for the better.
Students were then given the chance to put their questions to Mr Joseph which led to much interesting conversation. Questions included: “How has your life changed since becoming a Fairtrade farmer?”, “Why do farmers not get paid enough?”, and “Does the Fairtrade premium help farmers to purchase machinery?”
Participants also heard from Kevin McCullough, Head of Campaigns with the Fairtrade Foundation. He highlighted to them the many opportunities for schools to get involved and become a Fairtrade School.
Speaking at the event, Chair of the Council, Councillor Kim Ashton, said: “The theme of today’s Fairtrade schools event was ‘Meet the Producer’ and I would sincerely like to thank John Joseph for making the effort and taking the time to travel here today all the way from India to help shine a light on the issue of Fairtrade to our local students.
“As part of our wider work on sustainable development Mid Ulster District Council is committed to actively supporting Fairtrade. Activities during Fairtrade Fortnight are a great way of doing this and we would encourage all schools and indeed the wider community to get involved and help us achieve Fairtrade status for the district.”
Mr Joseph added: “Fairtrade Fortnight is creating awareness among the local people about the need for expressing their solidarity towards farmers in the Third World who are struggling to meet their needs through agriculture. Fairtrade means a decent and justified price, matching the cost of production to bring farmers a sustainable income.”
Students also took part in a Fairtrade Quiz for one of three Fairtrade hampers. The winners were Carntall P.S, Derrychrin P.S. and Moneymore P.S. Runners up were Howard P.S. and Windmill IPS.