Bexhill marked Fairtrade Fortnight with a series of events across the town.
Mahyana Sari, a Fairtrade coffee producer secretary, visited Bexhill and hoisted the new Fairtrade flag over the Town Hall. Among those present was Bexhill’s deputy mayor, Councillor Abul Azad, and Councillor Joy Hughes, who was mayor in 2006 when Rother District Council passed the Resolution supporting Fairtrade principles of justice and fairness, and made it policy to use only Fairtrade tea and coffee in refreshments in the council.
Mahyana also got to enjoy a cup of Fairtrade coffee from her native Sumatra, Indonesia, in Berry café at Collington. She explained to proprietors, staff and friends the process of picking the green and red berries and very quickly skinning them in order to transport them immediately to the roasters to preserve all their nutrients to enrich the flavour. Before they could trade under Fairtrade practice this was a stumbling block as the roads were awful. Now using the Fairtrade Premium, they have concreted and widened the road and cab transport the berries using a motorbike.
Despite the severe weather conditions, Mahyana gave a presentation in St Mary Magdalene Hall, Bexhill. The audience were warmed to hear how the coffee plants take about three years to produce fruit. The Fairtrade system provides training on how to produce organic coffee and safeguarding their environment for future generations. She explained how climate change in the past 20 years is dramatically changing the growing and flowering times to produce berries for the coffee. The extremes of temperature and erratic rainfall means that rain-damaged flowers do not produce berries and unpredictable drought at irregular times can destroy crops. She also showed the fabulous advantage of the Fairtrade premium in providing electricity for the first time and, not only can they listen to music and TV but the farmers can access information and greater still the children can now use lights to read and do more homework in the evenings with life changing effects.
Councillor Azad lead the praise for what all had learned and enjoyed and was profuse in his admiration of the Fairtrade Committee in providing the events and leadership in Bexhill and Rother. He urged all to go out and ask for and find the Fairtrade products on their shopping rounds.
Visit bexhillfairtrade.org for the new, revamped website and fairtrade.org for more information.
For more information on Fairtrade Fortnight, at Bexhill College, see page 36.
For more photographs from Fairtrade Fortnight, visit www.bexhillobserver.net.