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Thinking bananas this Fairtrade Fortnight

Today’s Go Bananas! blog is from Jason McCartney MP. Jason is our local MP and a long term advocate for Fairtrade. This year, is no different……

 

“I have been eating plenty of bananas during my training for this year’s London Marathon. Bananas are the perfect handy snack to give me energy as I get ready to tackle Holme Moss on a rain swept winter’s morning. I’m lucky that my local Co Op in Honley only sells bananas which are Fairtrade. As Fairtrade Fortnight approaches I’ve been thinking a bit more about where our bananas come from.

 

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Supporting a fairandfunky event in Holmfirth during One World Week 2013

Behind each cheap bunch of bananas at our local supermarket is a farmer trying to earn a decent living from the fruit. The shelf price of loose bananas in UK supermarkets has almost halved in the last 10 years even though the cost of producing bananas has doubled. Cheap bananas trap farmers and workers in poverty, and we now pay on average only 11p for a loose banana compared to 20p for a loose UK grown apple. The UK has come a long way in making bananas fairer over the past 2 decades: over 1.2 billion Fairtrade bananas are sold every year in the UK which is nearly a third of all bananas. Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-op now only sell Fairtrade bananas. But there’s still more to do.

 

Albeiro Alfonso ‘Foncho’ Cantillo Ruiz, is a Columbian banana producer. Foncho has been chosen as the figurehead for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight (24th February-9th March). The “Stick with Foncho” campaign highlights the problem that is faced by banana producers, like Foncho, across the globe.

 

Helping fairandfunky create a giant Fairtrade farmer during the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign in 2013.

Helping fairandfunky create a giant Fairtrade farmer during the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign in 2013.

I’m proud to be sponsoring a fairandfunky workshop in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 26th February. We’ll be celebrating Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 and highlighting the “Stick with Foncho” campaign. Three schools from West Yorkshire will be attending the workshops: Horbury Bridge CE Junior and Infant Academy from Wakefield, Meltham CE Primary School and Upperthong Junior and Infant School from my own constituency. At the workshops the students will be invited to make a Fairtrade flag using recycled materials and to make a “Make Bananas Fair” pledge to add to a banana tree. Foncho will be on hand to give the schoolchildren and MPs his firsthand experience of the hard life of a banana producer. The workshops will give guests an opportunity to learn more about the importance of Fairtrade which provides farmers a minimum price for their goods and additional payments that they can reinvest in their communities.

 

Meeting Sir Steve Redgrave during Fairtrade Fortnight 2011

Meeting Sir Steve Redgrave during Fairtrade Fortnight 2011

I personally always look out for Fairtrade products and I make an effort to buy them where I can. I love a good coffee and thankfully in the Houses of Parliament all of the coffee sold is Fairtrade certified. 2014 is the 20th anniversary of Fairtrade products hitting our shelves in the UK and there are now over 4,500 Fairtrade certified products. I am partial to a bit of dark chocolate now and again and in 2012 sales of Fairtrade chocolate accounted for over £540 million pounds worth of the £1.5 billion total sales of Fairtrade products in the UK. Similarly, the UK coffee shop market in 2012 had a £5.8 billion turnover. Of this, £200 million came from Fairtrade coffee and an estimated 25% of all roast and ground retail coffee sold was Fairtrade.

 

I hope that during this wet and windy February we should still try not to forget about those overseas farmers who produce our food during Fairtrade fortnight.”

 

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