farmer with produce12. Invitation for Khalid Sheikh to Attend the World Export Development Forum in Geneva.

In October 2008 Mr Khalid Sheikh, Chairman of Clifton Packaging Group was invited amongst senior decision-makers from both the public and private sectors to participate and be one of its keynote speakers at the World Export Development Forum in Switzerland. The theme of the Forum was Consumer conscience: How Environment and Ethics are influencing Exports, particularly relevant to developing countries.

The debate was about "Ethical trade: Does it come at a development cost? What is ethical trade? "Ethical trade means different things to different people either a term used for business practices that promote socially and/or environmental responsible trade. Others use the term in a much narrower sense referring to labour practices in a company's supply chain".

What is Fair Trade? The concept of fair trade has caught people's imagination, giving them a way to connect globally to fight against poverty. Previously, the western public barely thought about farmers growing their food, now these issues are firmly established on the public agenda and therefore on the business agenda.

Fairtrade sales now account for approx 20% of the roast and ground coffee market in the UK, although reaching only 5% of overall coffee market to date. The aim is to encourage companies to commit more to Fairtrade which has lead to a number of long-term and significant commitments by major retailers. i.e.

Co-Op switched all of its own-label coffee and block chocolate to Fairtrade. Marks & Spencer switched all of its coffee and tea to Fairtrade. Sainsbury switched all of its bananas to Fairtrade, Tate & Lyle switched all of their retail sugar to Fairtrade and the list goes on and on. In late 2005, Nestle, released its own Fairtrade coffee: Partners' Blend. Now, after years of saying Fairtrade was bad for the industry, Nestle admits that it was market forces that have changed its mind. Yet as the movement grows, there is concern about the premium pricing of Fairtrade products in some supermarkets. The market penetration of Fairtrade is increasing. Surveys in UK found that 70% of households had purchased a Fairtrade certified product at least once in the past year; this means an extra 2.3 million households have purchased Fairtrade in just one year despite worsening economic situation. Fairtrade is one in a wide range of strategies used to fight poverty. While it gives consumers an opportunity to use their purchasing power to tilt the balance in favour of the poor, on its own it can't fully address the crisis faced by the millions of small-scale farmers and producers whose livelihoods are threatened by low commodity prices and unfair competition from rich countries.

This can only be achieved by changing the unfair rules of world trade so that they work for small-scale producers as well as rich multinationals. Trade campaign works towards this by calling on governments, institutions, and multinational companies to change the rules so that trade can become part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem.

In the meantime, for hundreds of thousands of people, Fairtrade means the difference between a hand-to-mouth existence and being able to plan for the future. The question still remains .. Is Fairtrade "Fairtrade"? Are developing countries getting any richer or getting anything out of this? Or is this purely business orientated, the rich get richer in the west and the poor in the developing countries stay where they have always been on the poverty line! In short, although the Forum was enlightening, with very serious discussions, there were at the end of the day, no ready or easy solutions put to the panel and no problems resolved.

BABA is the start........ Empower the people with knowledge transfer programmes; redress the widespread of poverty by eradicating corruption. Define and re-shape the 'Agro' food packaging industry in Africa. Utilise the local produce to a high standard of packaging and export to the western world and incentivise the local farmers who earn less than a $1 a day hardly enough to feed their families

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