TV celeb Aggie MacKenzie visits African peanut farmers

TV’s cleaning expert Aggie MacKenzie shared stories about her visit to one of the poorest countries on earth, where she met Fairtrade farmers.

The 55-year old Scottish TV presenter spoke at Hackney’s Town Hall in Mare Street on Saturday, as part of annual national Fairtrade Fortnight which runs until March 13.

Aggie, who lives in Stoke Newington, went to Malawi in south-east Africa to find out first-hand the benefits that Fairtrade brings to peanut and sugar producers.

The Fairtrade label ensures disadvantaged farmers and workers in developing countries always get a fair for their produce.

Around 10 per cent of the Fairtrade price goes straight back to the farming organisation to pay for community projects like clean water supplies, shelter, or extra school classes.

As soon as Aggie arrived in Malawi - her first time in Africa - she was struck by the heat and how hard everyone was working, including women with babies on their backs.

She said: “In many cases their partners had died, and they had been left with children to bring up alone.

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“It seemed so important for them to get their children educated, even though they had no schooling themselves - and the extra money which comes with Fairtrade helps them do that.

“I was really shocked that people still live in mud huts,” added Aggie, who is best known for co-presenting Channel 4 series, How Clean Is Your House?

“Don’t tell me you told them to keep the place clean,” joked Leabridge Cllr and Fairtrade Borough Champion Ian Rathbone.

Aggie also visited a shelter which gives parents somewhere to stay when their children are being treated in the nearby hospital, built with money from sales of Fairtrade peanuts.

The trip was organised by Shoreditch-based fair-trade nut company Liberation Foods, which sells Harry’s Nuts - salted peanuts and salted cashews promoted for free by comedian Harry Hill.

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