The first Fairtrade Breakfast in Malawi marks the history of the movement in the continent in general and confirms Fairtrade is a good business model in the country in particular.
The event, co-organised by the Malawi Fairtrade Network and Fairtrade Africa, was held early June in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe. It convened more than 60 representatives from Malawi’s Parliament, producer organisations, the donor community and civil society to discuss formally and informally the opportunities Fairtrade offers to the Malawian agricultural sector.
The Malawi Fairtrade Network chaired the meeting and facilitated a panel discussion with representatives from sugar, groundnuts and tea industries – areas where Fairtrade is thriving. This also included a glimpse of the current market opportunities in the UK and the initiatives the system is currently taking to grow that market.
During his keynote speech, the Principle Secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Mr. Nerbet Nyirenda, corroborated the natural alignment of Fairtrade with government’s focus on reducing poverty, promoting sustainable growth and protecting the environment. Furthermore, he presented his vote of support for the incorporation of Fairtrade into the national export strategy.
In addition to the formal agenda, the event offered producers an opportunity to sample their products and interact with all guests at an exhibition space. The audience was captivated by the stories of premium projects and market potential for Malawian products; and also raised critical questions about the potential for expansion of Fairtrade in the system.
The challenge is now following up and ensuring Fairtrade is included in national policy and projects. Having established this first point of contact, the Malawi Fairtrade Network will continue to explore initiatives, and as one of the producers expressed during the event, next time the breakfast must be hosted by government!