Bishop Mike explores Fairtrade in Uganda

First published 6th February 2011

Bishop Mike visited a Ugandan tea plantation to discover what difference Fairtrade might make in developing countries.

As part of the Dioceses of Bristols commitment to Fairtrade in 2011, Bishop Mike took time during his trip to our Link Province of Uganda in December 2010 to visit a tea plantation.

The plantation, in Mukono Diocese, is part of the Uganda Tea Corporation. It employs 1,700 tea pickers within its fields. It also has a factory that supports other local growers, buying the tea they pick from them.

During his visit, Bishop Mike not only saw tea pickers in action but also met pickers, growers and the factory manager, Vikram, who had come over from Assam in India.

He explored issues with Vikram such as the remuneration of employees, its ethical standards, and the economic forces at play within the tea industry

No ones ever going to make a pile of money from picking tea leaves, reflected Bishop Mike.

Good pickers can earn between 7 and 10 per week. In addition, the tea company also supplies them and their families with accommodation, a daily meal, medical attention etc.

Tea production in this context feels like family. Theres certainly a responsibility taken by the owners and managers for its workers.

But the complexities of trade justice became very clear to him on the visit.

Producers of tea can have nothing to do with the price of the commodity that they produce. They do not have access to the market whereas big buyers of tea can exercise a lot of influence on price. The justice of this is questionable.

Bishop Mike will be sharing his experiences in Uganda with a range of leaders from Bristol who will be attending the Bishops Brew, a Fairtrade tea party he is holding during Fairtrade Fortnight.

Bishop Lee is also holding a Bishops Brew in Swindon and parishes are encouraged to hold their own Big Brews during Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of Fairtrade issues.

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