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29 May 2013 | Andrew Allen
Wales can take the lead in fixing the world’s broken food system to make it fairer and more sustainable, according to Welsh government finance minister Jane Hutt.
Speaking at the Fair Trade and Sustainable Procurement Conference in Wales last week, Hutt said the Welsh government’s commitment to sustainable development means its procurement policy is geared towards considering the economic, social and environmental long-term impact of procurement decisions.
The minister, who grew up in Uganda, said she had witnessed the hardships borne by small farmers at first hand. “High food, fertiliser and fuel prices, lack of investment and environmental degradation threaten the very survival of smallholder farmers. Unfair trade means farmers still only receive a tiny proportion of the price we pay for our food.
“While around a billion people go hungry, in the West we waste about a third of all the food produced, equivalent to Sub-Saharan Africa’s total food production.
“Despite producing about 70 per cent of the world’s food, over half of the world’s hungry people are small farmers struggling to earn a decent livelihood from their crops. This is unacceptable.”
She said Fair Trade Wales is currently applying for UK government funding to take procurement officers to Uganda to observe how coffee and tea producers live and to see the difference Fair Trade can make to their lives.
“I hope that this will be the catalyst to changing our procedures and practices,” she said.
She added: “I strongly believe that what we do in Wales has a significant impact elsewhere. Public procurement remains vitally important in the Welsh government’s commitment to sustainable development and making it more sustainable, effective, and fair is essential.”