In 2002 Harry Hill went to Ghana with his brother Rod, a Devon farmer, just to “see how it works on the ground”. That trip got him interested in Fairtrade, and he’s carrying the message with a will. His brand on Harry’s Nuts! that include peanuts, cashews and now peanut butter boasts the Fairtrade logo that means a lot more than most of us imagine.
As one example of how Fairtrade works to benefit the environment, the farmer, the consumer and in this case an endangered Asian elephant, take the situation in Malawi. Cashew farmers were losing a sizable portion of their crops to wild elephants, and had little recourse but to try and fight them off, a nasty business for both man and beast. Fairtrade farmers decided to use funds provided by the non-profit to put up solar-powered electric fences; just enough of a shock to deter an elephant.
Another example is the Malabari goat, an indigenous breed with much greater resistance to disease than crossbreeds and much cheaper to raise for milk and meat; they were almost extinct when the organisation put together a breeding programme that donates a mating pair to some farmers, and in turn they donate the offspring to another farmer; everyone wins.
The ‘parent’ company of Fairtrade, Liberation Foods, was conceived and established with financial backing from charities like Harry Hill’s Comic Relief to help small nut farmers literally trade their way out of severe poverty. It is owned by various charities, ethical investors and farming organisations and run purely for the benefit of small farmers.
Harry Hill and many others believe the organisation can make a real difference in preserving natural biodiversity at the same time it promotes the welfare of small struggling farmers. Harry says he would love to see his salted nuts taken up by a pub chain or two; they are currently available at Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other outlets.