SCHOOLS, businesses and organisations came together to promote fairly traded goods during Fairtrade Fortnight.

A pop up Fairtrade stall and children’s activities in Skipton Library proved very popular, while schools organised community events and learnt about how cocoa farmers are helping to preserve the rainforest in Sierra Leone.

They learnt about the numerous processes involved in getting the cocoa beans to the factories in Europe where chocolate is made and how women are being empowered by Fairtrade.

Fiona Godfrey, Fairtrade Coordinator at Greatwood Primary School said the school were visited by Gemma and William Whitaker from the town’s Whitakers Chocolates who explained how cocoa is grown and how they use Fairtrade chocolate in their products.

“The children tried lots of chocolate too. We held competitions to complete a Fairtrade alphabet and design Fairtrade chocolate wrappers. All classes contributed to a Fairtrade display of children’s work, baking and samples of chocolate. The event was hugely successful with over 100 people attending”.

This year’s ‘She deserves Fairtrade’ theme focussed on female cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60 per cent of all cocoa is grown and the average cocoa farmer makes less than 75p per day, well below the extreme poverty line of around £1.40 per day.

The UK chocolate industry is worth at least £4 billion each year but only a fraction of this is Fairtrade.

Liz Roodhouse, chairman of Skipton Fairtrade Town, travelled to York to hear first-hand how selling some of her cocoa beans on Fairtrade terms has made a huge difference to Rosine, a cocoa farmer from Cote d’Ivoire.

She said: “We have the power as consumers to change lives by choosing Fairtrade chocolate every time, listening to Rosine’s story was inspiring. All the children in Rosine’s community no longer have to walk several miles to go to school because there’s a school in the village where they live. Rosine and others like her have gained confidence and skills by attending the Women’s School of Leadership and they have a voice in their community which they never had before”.

Many schools encouraged their pupils to enter a packaging competition sponsored by Whitakers and the Skipton Fairtrade town group and coffee mornings and bake sales have raised money that will help bring Fairtrade to more farmers and workers who grow the cocoa for chocolate.

Children from Giggleswick Junior and Giggleswick Primary School spent an afternoon becoming cocoa farmers, chocolate manufacturers, supermarkets and consumers and quickly realised how unfair and exploitable the chocolate industry can be, said Liz.

“Fairtrade teams at Giggleswick Junior, Embsay and Christ Church schools are becoming Fairtrade detectives making a note of retail outlets where Fairtrade products can be found. They know that Fairtrade is more than a mark on a product. It’s a call for change – a demand that trade creates a sustainable future for people and our planet,” she added.

To get involved with your local Fairtrade campaign contact and follow Skipton Fairtrade on Facebook.