FIVE hundred workers on a Fairtrade banana farm in Ghana have each received a bicycle thanks to the Co-op and its customers.
The bicycles have been paid for out of the Fairtrade premium paid on products. The sum goes directly to the farmers who decide democratically how it should be spent. Record harvests at the Volta River Estates Ltd (VREL) farms this year have meant a bicycle bonus for everyone.
The cycles save VREL's employees on average two hours a day as they no longer need to walk for miles or wait for long periods for buses in order to get to work. This gives them time to spend on their own plots of land to grow food to feed their families.
"This year is absolutely our best year so far," says VREL's Alex Yeboah-Afari (pictured far right). "The premium is generated by the quality and quantity of the product which is why we have much more then we were expecting. We have improved our production capacity and have had no major quality setbacks."
Field worker Agnes Obuobia is delighted with her bike, she said: "It has taken away my transportation costs which I now give to my daughter for school. My daughters normally use the bicycle for exercise during their leisure time and it makes them cheerful."
VREL's Fairtrade bananas are sold at Co-op stores nationwide.