It's Fairtrade Fortnight, the perfect time to find out why you should support NUS' Fairtrade clothing company Epona.
NUS’ clothing company Epona uses cotton from Om Organics, a Fairtrade cooperative that pays farmers a premium on top of the Fairtrade price. The villagers vote to decide on how they want to spend their premium. Here are five Fairtrade-premium projects that are up and running – five reasons why we should all support Epona.
One of the key differences that the Fairtrade cooperative is making to the lives of the farmers is in education. Children are provided with school books, bags and sponsorship, allowing them to further their education.
The Fairtrade premium has allowed children to follow their dreams of becoming doctors, etc.
There is clearly a long way to go for these children. When Simon Blake, Richard Brooks, Daisy Lindlar, Evette Prout and I visitied a school near Kantabanji, there were 150 children, 5 classes, only 3 classrooms and 3 teachers including the headmaster.
The Fairtrade cooperative has decided to spend some of their premium on buying a small rice mill. All of the farmers grow rice as well as cotton and rice is their staple food. The mill removes the husk and bran layers to produce the edible, white rice that we would recognise. The fact that they have their own mill means that they don’t have to travel 15km to process their own crop and they don’t have to pay a processing company either.
Plate making machine
The farmers have decided to buy plate making machines in order to generate some additional income. There are certain times of the year when the farmers have less work, and the plate making machines ensure that they are always busy and able to generate money for their families.
Steps into the bathing pond
In the villages around Kantabanji, people wash themselves and their clothes in bathing ponds outside the village. When the weather is wet, the banks into the pond become slippery and some elderly or very young people had broken bones and even risked drowning getting in and out of the pond. The steps have made their daily routine much safer.
The villages that are part of the cooperative are spread out over a large area and the farmers do not have access to cars or motorbikes. Transporting small items such as seeds or food could be quite difficult. The cooperative decided to buy pushbikes for the people in the village to make transport easier.