Thought for the Week

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I HAVE been writing a Thought roughly every six months, but my last one was back in July, because we now have more contributors, I’m glad to say. I’m glad too that this Thought falls in Fairtrade Fortnight 2013, which is currently occupying my time.

In my Thought for March 2005 I concluded my first encounter with this topic: “I suggest every local Christian should give serious thought to supporting Fair Trade.” Little did I realise that I would become so involved! In 2009 Montrose became the first Fairtrade Town in Angus, followed by four more – Arbroath, Brechin, Carnoustie and Forfar.

This led at the end of 2012 to Angus qualifying as a Fairtrade Zone (Dundee was already a Fairtrade City). Finally, last month, Scotland became the World’s second Fairtrade Nation (Wales was the first), the culmination of our aims.

I’ve learnt a lot over the years. One recent item that made a big impression on me was from an interview with Harriet Lamb, then executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation. It reminds us that Fairtrade can affect us far more than we realise.

“One of the reasons Cadbury’s first went Fairtrade is because they realised to their horror that the average age of a cocoa farmer in Ghana is 56. I went to Ghana with the chief executive of Cadbury’s and we met a farmer called Benjamin Atiemo. He was a bit shy in front of this chief executive, but eventually he explained: ‘All my sons have gone to Accra, they haven’t got jobs, they’re living rough, but they don’t see any future in growing cocoa beans, they just think it is drudgery for no money.’ Cadbury’s say that was a complete wake up call for them: no beans, no bars.”

I was one of the original contributors when the Review began publishing Thoughts in 1998, and now that fresh people have come forward I have decided this is my 28th and last effort. As a layman I have used some of my interests – gardening, golf, reading, swimming, walking – as a peg on which to hang Thoughts. My final plea (cf. 2005) is that “every Montrosian should give serious thought to supporting Fair Trade”, which ought to concern everyone with either established or personal faiths. My final Thought is the 2013 theme for Fairtrade Fortnight - ‘Go further for Fairtrade.’ Please join me and the other local activists - we really need your help.

Peter J Stevens

Archivist, Montrose Fairtrade Forum