Posted by: APO | 21 April 2008


Monday 21 April 2008


  • Freer trade is part of the solution to rising food prices
  • Minister to meet Ghanaian farmers that today win UK Queen’s award

A UK International Development Minister today called for more effort to conclude trade negotiations that will enable developing countries to trade their way towards growth and prosperity.

Gareth Thomas made his call at a UN meeting of International Trade Ministers in Ghana. He said:

”We are weeks away from a make-or-break point in WTO trade talks. If the world wants to do its best for the poorest countries, it needs to banish protectionism and seal a deal now – or we will lose that opportunity for at least two years. This will pave the way to giving developing countries more opportunities to trade overseas. The benefits are clear on both sides: trade will boost incomes and support growth in developing and developed countries alike.

”Fairer trade means getting rid of export bans, reducing agricultural subsidies that distort trade and lowering tariffs. This will help farmers better respond to the current high global food prices and increase production, but this is only part of the solution. We also need more investment to boost agricultural productivity – if farmers are able to get the higher prices then they will invest.”

Gareth Thomas also congratulated nearby farmers who he will meet tomorrow, for winning an award from the Queen for their contribution to sustainable development. These farmers sell pineapples and coconuts to UK supermarkets and the Minister will see first hand how trade with Africa and UK consumer power can help fight global poverty
without tariffs or duties.

The Minister also challenged consumers at home that buying from Africa can help poverty does not have to cost the environment.

Gareth Thomas said:

”This award is proof that developing countries can export a product and take care of the environment at the same time. The UK imports over 2000 tonnes of prepared pineapple from Ghana every year contributing £2.6 million to the local economy through wages alone. This helps farmers and their families live a better life.”

Nana Otu Bram, who runs Ahuntem Farms in Ghana which exports pineapples to the UK, said:

“Blue Skies has provided us with a ready market for our crops by helping us to trade with countries like the UK. We now get more money for our pineapples and can afford to send our children to school.”

Notes to editors

  1. The UNCTAD conference takes place in Accra, Ghana between 20-25 April and will bring together trade ministers, Heads of State and Head of International NGOs. The main theme of UNCTAD XII is to “address the opportunities and challenges of globalization for development”.
  2. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development Agenda trade talks have progressed in recent months. New negotiating texts on Agriculture, NAMA (non-agricultural market access) and Services are expected in the coming weeks, which may pave the way to agreement on agriculture and NAMA at political level, and an overall deal later this year.
  3. Over the past 30 years, no country has lifted itself out of poverty without also opening their borders and expanding trade. We can boost trade in two ways: by promoting a more free and fair global trading system; and by helping countries build their capacity to trade.
  4. The MDGs Call to Action was launched in July 2007 by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown in New York, speaking alongside the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to encourage the international community to accelerate progress to reach the MDGs. The Call to Action has clustered the work into four priority areas, one being growth, jobs and trade to address MDG 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
  5. A million fruit and vegetable growers in Africa are already providing UK shoppers with quality competitive goods. Africa’s organic exports to the EU represent US$100m a year. Airfreighted fruit and vegetables from Africa account for less than one tenth of one percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  6. Blue Skies has today been commended for its continuous support for local producers in the developing world by winning a Queens Award for Enterprise in the sustainable development category for continuous achievement in the provision of fresh-cut fruit, prepared at source, and aimed at maximising the sustainability benefits created for local producers. The company celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and its biggest operation is in Ghana. In 2007, Blue Skies launched ‘Caretrace’ in partnership with Waitrose. Caretrace is an online system that allows customers to trace where their fruit came from by watching videos, downloading photographs and looking at interactive maps
  7. DFID is working for a fairer trade around the world – this means fewer tariffs and less duty. We are committed to promoting a more free and fair global trading system, to promote more fairtrade and to nurture business partnerships between the UK and Africa. DFID has provided £12 million of support since 1997 for fairtrade. It recently announced a £2m fund for grants for partnerships that bring UK retailers and African farmers together Farmers organisations like those that supply Blue Skies could benefit by giving them money to invest in reducing the carbon emissions in their operations, such as a ”low carbon pineapple”. This would showcase how the pineapple export business can measure and reduce its carbon footprint, saving costs and improving competitiveness.


Blue Skies Ghana provides training and support for over 150 farmers in Ghana, 78 of whom are small-holder organic farmers.

Blue Skies’ fresh-cut fruit factory employs 1,700 people and, through salaries alone, injects over £2 million into the local community every year. The company accounts for around 1% of Ghana’s total exports.

It is vital for Blue Skies and for Ghana itself that this trade continues, without obstacles. 

Blue Skies have adopted an approach which takes into account every aspect of sustainability; from land conservation, composting and reforestation to investing in social projects and health care. By adopting a culture based on fairness, trust and respect, Blue Skies have demonstrated that pineapples grown in Ghana help protect the planet and their people.


%d bloggers like this: