Making Responsible Choices – Fairtrade Fortnight 2014

Make Bananas Fair – Stick with Foncho

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How it all began. . .

Anyone who has been lucky enough to hear first hand from a banana grower from the Windward Isles, as I was in 2012, will understand how fragile their economy and livelihood were before they began trading under Fairtrade Certification. Now over 90% of banana growers in the Windward Isles are members of a Fairtrade Group (Fairtrade Foundation 2010). At that time, Anton told us that their banana crop was suffering from Blight and assistance from the Fairtrade foundation was helping them through the crisis.

Banana growing in the Windward Isles has a long standing connection with the UK, having originally been developed by British entrepreneurs with government assistance. The Windward Isles were traditionally allowed preferential tarif-free entry to the EU, because of their unique economic importance and it’s historic connection with the UK. Banana Trade is now essential to the WI economy, even though it is a small percentage of the overall global trade in bananas.

During the 1990’s the Windward Isles lost their preferential trading position because of a campaign driven by larger banana producers from other countries of the world who finally won their case. The Windward Isles share of the UK banana market subsequently fell from being almost half of the market to less than 10% as they competed with other banana producers from around the world. Consequently farmers lost their livelihoods and poverty posed a real threat to island communities.

Fairtrade has revolutionised the lives of banana farmers, ensuring safer working conditions and practice and the Fairtrade premium has enhanced the lives of their communities. Bananas are traded through farmer led organisations, for example in the Windward Isles it is WINFA, (Windward Islands Farmers Association), giving the farmers greater control, more autonomy and control over price.

Yet again banana farmers are being undermined by a price war, this time driven by the larger supermarkets, who have in recent years been selling bananas for less than their wholesale price, in order to drive down their value. A cynical practise, which is clearly unsustainable in the long term and undoubtedly will be extremely destructive for the smaller farmers.
We can stop this from happening. Join the campaign now and make your voice heard.
You can sign the petition here Fairtrade Foundation petition

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