Sugar producer’s Melton Co-op visit raises awareness of Fairtrade

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A sugar producer from Malawi shared his story with Melton shoppers to show how Fairtrade is changing lives in poorer countries.

The Co-op food store on Scalford Road hosted a visit from Charles Chavi, who works for a sugar producer in southern Malawi.

The enlightening event was organised by the Melton Mowbray Fairtrade Town Group during Fairtrade Fortnight (February 23 - March 8).

Mr Chavi is a trust administrator for the Kasinthula Cane Growers’ Association in Malawi, working directly with the association’s sugar cane farmer members.

During his visit on Friday Mr Chavi, who comes from a family of cane farmers himself, explained how the association has grown and how becoming Fairtrade certified in 2002 had enabled the business to invest in improving healthcare, clean water, education and other projects to alleviate poverty in the community.

Customers who came along were able to meet him and ask questions as well as enjoying a short film and free, Fairtrade refreshments.

The Co-op was the first major retailer to stock Fairtrade goods in the early 1990s.

Karen Ball, member and community relations officer at Central England Co-operative, said: “As an ethical retailer we were proud to support this event. Our customers and members were able to get more of a direct understanding of how buying Fairtrade products can benefit producers and their families in poorer counties, as well as sample some Fairtrade products themselves.

Helen Chadwick, of the Melton Mowbray Fairtrade Town Group, said: “We were really excited to have a visit from a producer. Hearing how Fairtrade changes lives really encourages us to keep promoting Fairtrade.”