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Stick with Foncho this Fairtrade Fortnight

February 2014

Foncho is a banana farmer from Colombia. He works long, physically challenging hours to make his business work. He cares deeply about his farm and his bananas – without them, he would struggle to provide for his family.

Foncho, a banana farmer from Colombia

Fortunately, Foncho sells most of his bananas at the Fairtrade price, but he knows that the majority of bananas sold in the UK are so cheap that his fellow producers often don’t earn enough to make ends meet.

That’s why Foncho is joining the Fairtrade Foundation for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight (24 February – 9 March) to launch a new campaign - Make Bananas Fair.

Two decades of Fairtrade

It’s only 20 years since the first Fairtrade product hit our shops. Back then, it was a fairly niche concept championed by a few. By 2012, sales had reached £1.5 billion and there are now over 4,500 products with the Fairtrade mark.

This means that 1.3 million farmers and workers across 70 countries have been able to work their way out of poverty – improving the lives of whole communities. This is an amazing story of people powered change! 

But the fact the Fairtrade mark exists shows that the world trading system doesn’t work for the world’s poorest farmers, those we rely on for many products we take for granted.

Battling for bargain bananas

Bananas are our favourite fruit – we eat over 5 billion a year in the UK alone. The good news is that one in three bananas is now fairly traded.

But in the last 10 years, while the cost of producing bananas has doubled, UK supermarkets have almost halved the price of loose bananas.

We now pay on average, twice as much for an apple grown at home than for a banana grown half way around the world.

The battle to offer the cheapest bananas is fuelled by supermarkets. They compare prices on particular products in order to get more shoppers into their stores. This can result in certain products, like bananas, being sold at a loss.

But this race to the bottom is unsustainable and is putting enormous pressure on banana farmers around the world.

You can make a difference

Fairtrade goes hand in hand with campaigning for a better trade system. Buying Fairtrade products is a practical way of showing that you support a just way of doing business. But it is not enough to fix the system

That’s why Fairtrade Foundation wants you to Stick with Foncho and ask Vince Cable to urgently investigate unsustainable banana pricing.

Foncho knows the difference Fairtrade makes – and now he wants all banana farmers to make a decent living.

Sign the petition for Vince Cable and spread the word by getting your congregation involved. 

Together, let’s keep working for a world where the Fairtrade mark is no longer needed.

Photo credit: Eduardo Martino

About the author

Sarah Rowe

Sarah Rowe is Churches Campaigns Officer for Christian Aid

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