Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bolgatanga is (almost) a Fair Trade Town!

Once the International Fair Trade Towns Committee approves Bolgatanga’s Fair Trade Town application Bolga will become the second Fair Trade Town in Africa. The only current Fair Trade Town in Africa is New Koforidua, a town in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
Bolgatanga stands to gain many benefits if it becomes a Fair Trade Town. Producers will make more profit which will be shared out fairly between producers and those who sell on their products; traders from Bolgatanga will have more consumers from local and international markets. Bolgatanga will become a wealthier town with better living standards with more money coming in internationally.

In order to become a Fair Trade Town Bolgatanga had to achieve five goals. Goal one involves Bolgatanga twinning with another Fair Trade Town. During this cohort Bolgatanga has officially twinned with Shaftsbury in the UK. Since March 2014 there has been an exchange of knowledge and goods between Bolgatanga and Shaftsbury.

To achieve goal two there must be members of a cooperative that sell into the Fair Trade market resident in the community. Cooperative members affiliated with TradeAid sell their products into Fair Trade markets through channels including BICAF, a printed catalogue and E-selling. So far there have been 100 Etsy sales which have bought much appreciated extra income to crafts workers in Bolgatanga.

Goal three involves Fair Trade being promoted throughout the community. Volunteers throughout the cohorts have sensitised junior high schools, senior high schools, religious institutions, crafts groups and radio listeners about Fair Trade.

Goal four requires Bolgatanga to hold a Fair Trade event to promote local businesses and Fair Trade locally, regionally, and nationally.  The Fair Trade community event in Bolgatanga is called BICAF (Bolgatanga Arts and Crafts and Arts Fair); it was launched in 2014. BICAF gives local producers a platform to sell their products so they get a fair price.

For goal five to be achieved a Fair Trade steering group must be convened to ensure commitment to Fair Trade Town status. Steering committee meetings have been held regularly in Bolgatanga since March 2014. The steering committee has many members, these include the Deputy Regional Minister as the Chairman, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, TradeAid Integrated and representatives from craft groups.

A celebration is being planned now that Bolgatanga has achieved the five Fair Trade Town Goals and has (nearly) attained Fair Trade Town status. Volunteers are planning a community event where everyone in Bolgatanga will be invited, along with all the crafts groups and the Steering Committee. 
Becoming a Fair Trade Town certainly is a big achievement for Bolgatanga; it brings Bolgatanga a step closer to improving the lives of producers in the town by ensuring they receive a fair price for their products.
                                                                                                                Tess (UK Volunteer)

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