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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 March 2008, 10:25 GMT
Fair impressed by tea trade zeal
Julius Ethang'atha, small-scale tea producer, from Michimikuru, Kenya, has been travelling around Scotland as a guest of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum during Fairtrade Fortnight.

He told the BBC Scotland news website about his experiences following the Fair Trade routes for his product from Kenya.

It is clear that Scotland cares about Fair Trade.

From the highest levels of Scottish Government to school pupils, I have been amazed by the enthusiasm and knowledge about Fair Trade I have found here.

Julius Ethang'atha
Julius said Fair Trade was making a real difference

I did not expect this.

I now know Fair Trade enjoys a high profile in Scotland and many people already have a sophisticated understanding of the products they can buy and the impact this has.

This has become clear to me, as I have spoken at events like the Fairtrade Experience in Glasgow and to school pupils in venues like Edinburgh Zoo, Stirling, Oban and many other places.

At Rosebank Primary School in Dundee, I was almost moved to tears when a group of seventh year pupils gave me Fair Trade boxes they had decorated and filled themselves, which I will take home to a school in Kenya.

I have been in the tea industry in Kenya for 30 years.

It was through my past role as general manager of sales and marketing at the Kenya Tea Development Agency, the largest small-scale tea management agency in the world, that Fair Trade was introduced to tea-producing in Kenya five years ago.

At that time, we identified the most disadvantaged tea-producing factory in my area and established a pilot programme to help them work to produce tea for the Fair Trade market.

I have learnt that Scotland is working to become one of the world's first Fair Trade Nations

Since then, the social impact of Fair Trade in that first factory has been enormous.

Schools have been built and existing schools improved.

Dispensaries, water systems, roads, school bursaries for the poorest in society and feeding centres for those with HIV/Aids have been put in place.

All these projects have been funded by the social premium paid through Fair Trade, all of them democratically decided upon by the producers themselves.

Although many were initially sceptical about Fair Trade, other factories are now aiming to be registered with the international Fairtrade Labelling Organisation.

Ten out of over 50 small-scale tea-producing factories in Kenya are Fair Trade and another nine are waiting to be.

Julius Ethang'atha
The Fair Trade network is building more and more in Kenya

Anyone can come to Kenya and see that Fair Trade is helping people create a better life and those who are not yet part of the Fair Trade system want to be.

What we need is a larger market for Fair Trade so that more people can benefit.

Fair Trade bridges the gap between producers and consumers.

It creates an awareness that the person who grew your tea, coffee, or cotton has a name, a face, and a life.

Many of them live below the poverty level.

Their lives are difficult. Fair Trade not only mitigates the pangs of poverty, it helps them gain an education and improve their environment and community.

You may have heard the saying, 'Teach a man to fish and he will have fish forever.' What we in Africa need is trade, not aid.

What we need is a fair price for the goods we produce.

I have seen Scottish cities, universities and schools that have already become Fair Trade.

This has taken tremendous education, effort and commitment.

I have learnt that Scotland is working to become one of the world's first Fair Trade Nations.

This shows Scotland is committed to helping others make a fair wage for their products.

It does make a difference.

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