The Fair Traders Co-operative is working closely with local partners to support a group of young Kenyan farmers who are visiting the UK at the end of May. Huddersfield based Young Ethical Pioneers have organised the visit to provide opportunities for the farmers to learn about fair trading, ethical supply chains and to set up a direct trading link between Yorkshire and Kenyan youth. The young people are from Nyeri in central Kenya, where they work as coffee, dairy and tomato farmers on small family-owned farms. They are coming to the UK to learn about how their raw crops are turned into marketable produce, and how they can organise youths in Kenya to set up trading links with the youth enterprise groups in Yorkshire. The Fair Traders Co-operative will facilitate a day of training where the young people will explore business ideas around new products. Alongside the visit The Fair Traders Co-operative will be focusing on the varied range of Kenyan products already on offer in the Holmfirth shop and online, all of which are supplied by small artisans and manufacturers and support the very kinds of communities which the Kenyan farmers represent. As well as partnering with The Fair Traders Co-operative, the Young Ethical Pioneers are working with The Co-operative College and Bolling Coffee to organise a week of events and learning workshops for their guests. The events and the visit are part of the Global Community Linking programme which provides funding to groups to establish direct community to community links and raise awareness of global development issues in their communities.
The Young Ethical Pioneers (YEPs) formed in 2009 through a youth enterprise programme called ‘Not Just Us’ set up by local charity the Lorna Young Foundation. The aim of the programme is to teach young people who wouldn’t normally get the chance all about international development and fair trading. The programme provides training in all aspects of running a social enterprise and supports groups to set up and run their own ethical trading enterprises. So far the LYF has set up groups in Huddersfield, Leeds and Doncaster. The YEPs are currently working on developing a product range researched and designed themselves, ensuring that the supply chain and the people involved have not been exploited in the process of bringing the product to market. The link with Kenyan youth is an important element in their learning as not only will they be able to work directly with producers of the raw materials, but they will hear first hand some of the struggles faced by their peers in developing countries and be able to help directly by ensuring the profits from the produce are shared with the producers. The visit to Huddersfield is a chance for the Kenyan youth to learn about how fair trade business works, about UK markets, and to see how value is added to their produce once it leaves the farm. And when they return to Kenya they will be passing on their knowledge to other young people with the aim of getting more young people involved in farming. The challenge is for youth to see farming as a viable business; one problem being that young people do not want to take farms over from their parents who struggle to make a living. LYF’s work in developing countries seeks to address some of the problems facing farmers by training smallholders to understand markets and supply chains and enable them to get more value from their produce and improve their lives. In addition to the workshop that The Fair Traders Co-operative will be running, Bolling Coffee, a local coffee roaster, will host the YEPs and the Kenyans for an afternoon so that the young coffee farmers can see exactly what happens to coffee beans once they are exported; how value is added and how the coffee is processed, packaged, branded and sold to consumers. The Co-operative group, who sponsored one of the young farmers, will take the group to one of the Co-operative group’s farms to see how produce is processed from farm to fork, and to a co-operative store to learn about ethical sourcing and branding. The YEPs are planning to end the week with a finale event in Huddersfield town centre, where their Kenyan guests can take part in some real ethical trading in Huddersfield’s outdoor market. The YEPs are hoping that one outcome of their link with Kenyan farmers will be to persuade people in Huddersfield the value of ethical purchasing. To welcome our Kenyan guests to The Fair Traders Cooperative we are showcasing just some of the amazingly varied products we are currently stocking that have been made in Kenya.