As you read this, you may be taking a break to sip your much-needed morning mug of coffee, or your coveted afternoon cup of tea. Maybe you’re indulging in a chocolatey treat post-lunch, or have just engaged in the habitual chopping of a banana over your morning muesli. Amid these daily rituals, how often do you stop to consider the production of these staples – where they are grown, how, and by whom? You can take a deep dive into the answers to those questions at Fairtrade’s virtual Choose The World You Want Festival, but below is a taster of what’s threatening your daily cuppa.
Too hot to grow: key food staples set to decline in next decades
According to research published by the Fairtrade Foundation in 2021, climate change will severely threaten the supply of staples such as coffee, cocoa and bananas over the next few decades. By 2050, as much as 50% of the global surface area currently used for coffee farming may no longer be suitable, due to the changing climate. Many cocoa-growing regions in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire – who produce over half of the world’s cocoa – will become too hot to grow the crop by 2050. And over a similar timescale, adverse climate conditions will trigger a drastic decline in banana yields in 10 countries, including India, Brazil and Colombia.
If you weren’t aware of this potential for decline in the supply of some of our most commonplace foodstuffs, you’re not alone. New research commissioned by Fairtrade ahead of the launch of 2022’s Fairtrade Fortnight found that over 60% of Brits are unaware that cocoa, coffee and banana yields are under threat due to the climate crisis.
The need for producers to adapt to climate change
Despite this, over three quarters (78%) of the public say it’s important that people overseas who produce tea, coffee, food, flowers, cotton and other staple products are able to adapt to climate change.
Adaptation is key, because the people who produce these staples are on the frontline of a crisis they had no role in causing, and it’s threatening their livelihoods and their futures. In recent years, producers in low-income countries (where the majority of the aforementioned crops are grown) have seen more frequent floods, drought, rainfall, pest attacks and diseases contribute to a consistent reduction in yields. Coupled with already low incomes, and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more producers are falling into debt through no fault of their own. Instead, the blame rests squarely with our global trading system, the very mechanics of which increase global inequality, driving down prices for consumers in the Global North and leaving producers in the Global South to foot the bill.
Why is Fairtrade the answer to climate adaptation?
Many of us are aware of the work that Fairtrade does to ensure producers are given a fair wage for the items they produce. But what does this have to do with climate adaptation? Put simply, a decent wage enables producers to invest in methods, technologies, education and infrastructure that increase their resilience to climate shocks. Fairtrade works with producers to strengthen environmental and climate protection, providing resources, training and knowledge so they can face climate challenges.
That means that as consumers, buying Fairtrade products is one way we can begin to address the injustice at the heart of the climate crisis. By choosing Fairtrade, we prioritise the people behind the products – and the more of us that do so, the more momentum is built for businesses and governments to go further in their commitments to making global trade fairer.
Bismark Kpabitey is a Fairtrade cocoa farmer and a member of Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana. He is also the star of this giant grass painting, produced by @sandinyoureye in West Yorkshire.#FairtradeFortnight starts on Monday! Join us: https://t.co/K3gcYUtPTt#ChooseTheWorldYouWant pic.twitter.com/OZemV5pW8Z— Fairtrade Foundation (@FairtradeUK) February 18, 2022
What’s in store during Fairtrade Fortnight 2022?
As an agency dedicated to climate justice, Greenhouse Communications was delighted to support the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight this year. It was a thrill to team up once again with the extraordinary artists at Sand In Your Eye, who created a stunning 30x30m piece of grass art depicting Fairtrade cocoa farmer Bismark Kpabitey to mark the launch. So far, the art, as well as the new consumer data, has been featured in the Guardian, the Metro, the Independent, Yahoo, MSN, Edie, My Green Pod, and a host of other publications.
Fairtrade Fortnight – which kicked off earlier this week – highlights how buying Fairtrade is a simple yet impactful choice people can make to support farmers and workers in low-income countries as they work to adapt to the effects of climate change. Fairtrade’s Choose The World You Want Festival is running online over the next two weeks, featuring around 40 virtual events designed to engage and inform people about the harmful impact of the climate crisis on farmers and food supplies. The festival also highlights how decent incomes and support through Fairtrade equips farmers to tackle climate impacts in their communities. Take your coffee/tea/chocolatey snack/banana-topped muesli along, and hear from the producers themselves about how you can help them build climate resilience via your weekly shop.