The Abergavenny Fairtrade Forum celebrated ten years of existence last week by holding a Civic Fairtrade breakfast in the Council Chambers.

It was one of the Forum’s main events for Fairtrade fortnight (February 29 to March 13). The idea was to show how much of what we consume for breakfast comes from overseas.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Before you finish eating breakfast you’ve depended on more than half the world.”

The event was organised by members of the Forum and Councillor Martin Hickman in his role as forum liaison officer.

Attendees included the Mayor of Abergavenny Councillor Maureen Powell who hosted the event, Monmouth AM Nick Ramsey, MP David Davies, several other councillors and friends and supporters of the Fairtrade movement. The chambers were packed with an enthusiastic audience.

The morning started with a wonderful spread of Fairtrade and locally-sourced food, which was greatly admired by Adam Gardener from the Fairtrade Foundation. The food showcased just how many countries Fairtrade food is sourced from.

The Mayor then officially opened the event and stressed the importance of Fairtrade in the community.

Entertainment came from Llantilio Pertholey Primary School led by music teacher, Simon Oram.

The children performed some vibrant African songs followed by their prize-winning Fairtrade composition ‘It’s not fair’.

Forum member Martha Musonza Holman then spoke about the impact of Fairtrade in Zimbabwe. Having just returned from the country and being a producer herself, she underlined how much this trade meant to local artists. She stressed that empowering people in this way was a vital lifeline in providing employment. For many producers in Zimbabwe this is the only way to make a living.

Martha was followed by local farmer Chris Wardle who made the connection between Fairtrade and local trade. Chris has had experience both in Africa and locally of small scale farming. He also spoke about the problems of climate change and its effect on farmers in the developing world.

The current drought in Southern Africa is the worst for many years and is having devastating consequences on crop production. He mentioned that ironically, in Wales this year there had been far too much rain which had adversely affected his farm and land in Abergavenny.

Adam Gardener from the Fairtrade Foundation then spoke about the importance and strength of Fairtrade throughout the world. He praised local groups, such as Abergavenny for their consistent support of Fairtrade on a totally voluntary basis. He said that he looked forward to the day when all products would be produced on a Fairtrade basis thereby ensuring fair wages for workers throughout the developing world.

Nick Ramsey AM then gave a supportive speech, saying that in his opinion Fairtrade food tasted much better!

The morning was summed up by forum member David Holman who mentioned that Abergavenny was also celebrating ten years of the Wales Fair Trade Fair which brings nearly 2,000 people to the town every October. He urged everyone to think about Fairtrade in their everyday lives, and to promote and purchase Fairtrade goods whenever possible.

He thanked all who were present and praised the compassion and dedication of local people to the principles of Fairtrade.

Future Fairtrade fortnight events in Abergavenny include:

Friday March 11 from 10am to 12 noon: Fairtrade breakfast and coffee morning with Fairtrade stall, Community centre, Park Street.

Saturday March 12 from 10am to 12 noon: Fairtrade coffee morning, Abergavenny Library.