Testimony 10 - Hilton Dawson, MP
I am really sorry that I can't attend tonight because I'm required in Parliament.
I am extremely impressed with the way that Garstang Oxfam Group have worked to draw the link between local farmers and their counterparts thousands of miles away in the very different circumstances of New Koforidua in Ghana.
While Garstang farmers are comparatively much better off than those in Ghana both groups are primary producers with little influence over how their product is processed, marketed, traded and sold in the market place.
Both groups are small players in the world-wide process of globalisation where air flights, the internet and the rigours of a market economy mean that many goods are traded across the world and competition is intense.
Neither the Government nor I see any alternative to this process. Indeed there is no doubt that it can bring great benefits. The challenge is to make globalisation work well for all.
Part of the answer is to hold events such as tonight’s citizens jury. Never underestimate the power of ordinary people to gain knowledge and work together to make a change to their world.
Part of the solution will be NEPAD, the New Economic Partnership for African Development. African-led it will combine the opportunities provided by massive debt reduction, increased aid, economic reform and the reduction of trade barriers to help African economies create sustainable growth.
Another part will be learning the lessons of the Curry Report on the ‘Future of Farming'. We must use the opportunities presented by the splendid resources of places like Myerscough, regional development and the investment in rural regeneration to support collaboration, local produce processing initiatives, diversification and better partnership between the key elements of the food chain.
As consumers we can influence the process. Wherever we shop we should insist on quality local produce and quality fair trade goods.
There is a great deal of work to do but Garstang and New Koforidua are setting a good example to communities across the world by building your partnership and holding events such as this one tonight.
Hilton Dawson M.P.