OFTC Talk 15th October 7pm – 9pm: Fair Trade in Palestine with Nawal Slemiah, Founder and Director of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative

October 3, 2018

Poster 15 Oct

Fair Trade in Palestine with Nawal Slemiah
Founder and Director of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative
Venue:  Simpkins Lee Theatre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford
Date:  Monday 15 October 2018
Time: 7.00 – 9.00 pm
Tickets on the door:  £5 / Students free
(All funds/donations will go to OFTC and Women of Hebron)
Refreshments available

In May 2018, Carol Wills and Elizabeth Laskar went on the first ever Fair Trade tour of Palestine, organised by the Holyland Handicrafts Cooperative Society and the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre, and met Nawal Slemiah at the Women in Hebron Cooperative.  They will speak about the journey they made.  Nawal will talk about the work the cooperative does to empower Palestinian women and keep Palestinian culture and traditional handicrafts alive.    There will be an opportunity to buy and order goods from Women of Hebron before and after the talk.  OFTC will be covering some of Nawal’s costs for her visit to Oxford – please donate generously.

Register for a Fairtrade Regional Conference 2018

July 30, 2018

FT Conference 2018

Register for conference here

The First Fair Trade Tour of Palestine May 2018

July 26, 2018
(Picture: Delegates were invited to wear the traditional dress of Palestine)

By Carol Wills

In early May 2018, Elizabeth Laskar and I joined the first ever Fair Trade Tour of Palestine, culminating in the celebration of World Fair Trade Day at the University of Bethlehem Fair Trade Resource Centre on Saturday 12 May.

We saw how Fair Trade enterprises support Palestinian traditional culture, preserve traditional crafts and provide thousands of farmers and other producers, many of them women working from home,  with a much needed income and with hope that a better life is possible.

Our tour took place in the West Bank (also known as the Occupied Territories) where Palestinian Fair Trade producers live and work in extremely difficult circumstances under a military occupation that has gone on for over 50 years.  Alongside our Fair Trade visits we heard many heart breaking stories of people who had lost loved ones and suffered injustices. On top of this, the economic situation is harsh and unemployment is high.

Nevertheless, we were made hugely welcome wherever we went, drinking little cups of mint tea and very strong black coffee and eating enormous quantities of local couscous, hummus and tomato, cucumber and mint salad.  Our tour started at Canaan Fair Trade which produces the olive oil sold by Zaytoun and where we enjoyed an olive oil tasting before touring the impressive facility.  It is a cooperative of more than 2000 olive farmers.

At the Palestinian Agricultural Research Centre in Jericho, a member of the WFTO, we saw how grapes are dried to produce Fair Trade sultanas and raisins and met a group of women rolling couscous by hand.  The Women of Hebron Cooperative Association produces fine, traditional embroidery and backstrap loom woven wool carpets.  Most women work from home but come to the Centre with their work, to attend meetings, take part in decision-making and have the chance to gossip.   Men work at the Hebron glass and ceramic factory nearby, where Traidcraft places orders.

In Jerusalem we visited Sunbula Fair Trade, also a WFTO member, working to bring fresh designs and colour to traditional embroidery  and providing an income to several thousand women.  Sunbula means “spike of wheat” in Arabic (i.e. the flower that makes bread) and Sunbula’s mission is  to provide its producers with the gift of a more dignified life.

Finally we reached Bethlehem and the Holyland Handicraft Cooperative  Society where we saw some fine olive wood carving in their magnificent shop by the Field where the shepherds watched their flocks by night not far from the appalling wall where Banksy has his Walled Off Hotel.

On World Fair Trade Day we donned traditional Palestinian dress to celebrate at the University.

We came home convinced that if Palestinians are going to have any chance of a sustainable future at all, we must tell their stories and buy their products.

Join us! Don’t Ditch Fairtrade demonstration Saturday 28th October 1pm – 1.30pm

October 25, 2017

What?    Don’t Ditch Fairtrade demonstration
Where?  Outside Sainsbury’s, opposite Town Hall, St. Aldate’s, Oxford
When?  1.00 – 1.30 pm Saturday 28 October 2017
Why?   Sainsbury’s is dropping Fairtrade certification in favour of its own in-house scheme.  They are starting with tea.  Other products are expected to follow.  Let’s protest.   Bring your own placards or banners

Nicaraguan Coffee Producer Talk in Oxford 9th March 2017

February 10, 2017
two           The Oxford Leon Link and the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition
invite you to attend
a talk by Santiago Dolmus, of Cecocafen cooperative in Nicaragua
on the impact of climate change on coffee farmers and the continuing importance of Fairtrade.   
The talk will be held at 
7.30pm on Thursday 9 March at Oxford Town Hall 
and will be in Spanish with English translation.
Cecocafen  (Central Association of Northern Coffee Cooperatives)  is an umbrella co-operative in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua with 2,600 members organised into 12 community based credit and service co-operatives.
  In the UK their Fairtrade coffee is sold through Cafedirect

Zaytoun awarded Global Trader of the Year 2016

March 19, 2016


We offer our congratulations to Zaytoun, producer of delicious fairtrade products, which has been awarded Global Trader 2016 by Fairtrade International . Manal Ramadan stated: “Fairtrade has transformed the lives of over 2,500 olive farming families, guaranteeing them the sale of their entire crop at a fair price. Our challenge now is to grow the demand for the olive oil to enable thousands more families to join the movement and reap the benefits of this sustainable ethical trade model.” There is an article on the Fairtrade Foundation website with more information.

Local Oxford fair trade shops (Fairtrade at St.Michaels and The Windmill) sell a wide range of Zaytoun products including olive oil, dates, almonds cous cous, za’atar and smoked freekah.


New! Launch of Organisation Guarantee Label

February 17, 2016

The Official Launch of the World Fair Trade Organisation Guarantee Label took place on 13th February at the “Ambiente” Trade Fair in Frankfurt. 

“The WFTO Label – the first international label that guarantees Fair Trade Organisations operating in any part of the supply chain, from producers to retailers – has been unveiled. With this unique Fair Trade label, consumers will be able to identify products in the international marketplace that meet high economic, social and environmental sustainability criteria. Fair Trade Organisations are fully committed to sustainable production and trade.”

For more information go to http://wfto.com

Visit your local fair trade shops to buy products from WFTO Organisation Guarantee artisans:

Fairtrade at St. Michaels http://www.fairtradeatstmichaels.co.uk

The Windmill http://www.headingtonfairtrade.org.uk


An Evening of Indian Spices

October 16, 2011

Saturday 22nd October from 6-8pm at The Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford  OX1 3LW

A range of Indian spices in a handmade basketJust Change tea grown by a tribal co-operative in Gudalur, in the Nilgiri Hills, South India, has been available in Oxford for some time. Now we are delighted to announce the arrival of Just Change Spices – including cardamom, chilli powder, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves plus ground ginger.

There will be a cookery demonstration to give you some ideas about how to use the spices in curries, masala chai and hot mulled apple juice – which you are welcome to taste. Gift baskets and loose packs of individual spices – as well as tea – will be available to buy, at a fair price for the producers and for you.

Dr Alex Nicholls MBA, lecturer social entrepreneurship at University of Oxford’s Said Business School, will discuss the benefits and challenges of the revolutionary Just Change trading system. Dr Nicholls is co-author of a major research book on Fair Trade (with Charlotte Opal, Sage, 2005) and the editor of a collection of key papers on social entrepreneurship (Oxford University Press, 2008).

A word from the producers:

“Here in Gudalur, putting together the JCUK spices pack was fun and exciting, as this time we were able to purchase our goods directly from producers! Peppercorns, cardamom and of course, tea, are from our members in Gudalur. Chillies and coriander are from our partner, Aharam, whose farmers are around Madurai, in Tamilnadu. Turmeric is from Organic farmers in the Sittilingi Valley of Tamilnadu. All these were processed into powders by women members of BVM branch of the Just Change Company in Kerala. The adivasi soap unit, in Gudalur, took a few days off soap making, to pack and parcel the spices to send to JCUK. We are glad that they were a runaway success, and look forward to sending you more spices next year! We have sourced some handmade baskets as well!”  For more information see www.justchangeuk.org 

Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.  To book email justchangeoxford@gmail.com or call 07773 949 787

Spotlight on Producers:

March 25, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA:  The Highveld Cooperative
Like Mma Ramotswe in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, I’m a huge fan of “redbush” or “rooibos” tea.  So it was wonderful to discover that it’s possible to get Fairtrade Rooibos from South Africa.

Much of the organic Fairtrade rooibos available comes from two cooperatives: The Heiveld Cooperative and The Wuppertal Cooperative. The Heiveld Cooperative, established by 14 smallholder farmers in 2001, started under difficult circumstances. The Suid Bokkeveld, where the Cooperative is located, is quite isolated, and members’ live at a distance from each other. Prior to 1994, black South Africans were prohibited from organising cooperatives. The legacies of apartheid remained powerful even after the system itself was dismantled, and many rooibos farmers, lacking training and an understanding of markets, were selling to local traders at low prices. The organisation of the Heiveld Cooperative began the process of empowering the farmers involved; Fairtrade has hastened that process by trebling the price they received for their goods and enabling them to invest in their own equipment, so that they are no longer dependent on larger landowners. The farmers are now managing the packaging, processing and export of the tea themselves, and supporting a variety of business-related projects to improve women’s livelihoods and care for the environment.

To find out more, visit the FLO article on Heiveld here,  the Cooperative’s own website here, or the Equal Exchange website here.

PALESTINE:  Zaytoun Olive Oil

The situation in Palestine continues to be bleak.  Fair Trade is relevant here in that it brings hope to a seemingly hopeless scenario.  Here is an extract from the first 2010 Zaytoun Newsletter:

“Welcome to our first newsletter of 2010! Happy New Year to you all. As we start 2010 the situation in Palestine in many respects continues to be bleak. It is a year since Israel’s war on Gaza killed over 1400 people and the effects of the ongoing closure on all borders of Gaza see the population having to rely on tunnels and charity for passage of food and medical supplies. Zaytoun is still hoping that we can resume trade with the women’s cous cous coop in Gaza in the near future, the Israeli closure of the borders have prevented any trade with this group since 2006.

As we have mentioned in previous newsletters the 2009 olive harvest in Palestine has brought a very low yield; the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees cite it as being the worst in 30 years. The farmers we work with ask that we do stick with them through this hard year and also that we focus on building markets for other products. Whilst the politicians allow the continuation of the siege on Gaza, the expansion of illegal settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the ongoing military occupation, we at Zaytoun are energised to be working with all of you in seeking constructive avenues in which we can work with our colleagues in Palestine. Looking forward to the next year to aim high to create new and sustainable markets for Palestinian products.”

Going Deeper –  the Fairtrade Premium
Most people know that Fairtrade involves producers’ getting a stable price for their products that covers the costs of sustainable production and a basic cost of living. What they tend to be less clear on is the Fairtrade premium — the additional money (normally a percentage of the Fairtrade price multiplied by the amount of product sold on the Fairtrade market) that is received for community development. This premium is, however, a key part of the way that Fairtrade enables sustainable development.

If you would like to “go deeper” and find out more about the premium, why not have a look at the guidance materials that the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) has prepared for producer groups? It’s available here, and gives both an explanation of what the premium is and how groups are accountable for using it. Interesting and helpful stuff.

New Fairtrade Products
You can now buy Fairtrade melons (Asda and Morrison’s) and a wide range of Fairtrade bodycare products (26 at Boots, as well as a number available from smaller shops). In addition, last year the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation expanded its standards to cover all herbs and spices, so look for a wide range of Fairtrade cooking ingredients to appear in shops.