Go bananas for Fairtrade Fortnight

Co-ops are preparing to go bananas as Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 approaches. This year the Fairtrade Foundation is focusing on the most popular fruit in the UK and the...

Co-ops are preparing to go bananas as Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 approaches. This year the Fairtrade Foundation is focusing on the most popular fruit in the UK and the fourth most important food crop in the world for the 14-day campaign.

Between 24 February and 9 March, Fairtrade banana producers from Ghana and Colombia will visit UK towns, highlighting the drive to make bananas fair. Columbian farmer Foncho, the face of the campaign, stars in a short film on the foundation’s website.

There will be fruit stalls, fairgrounds, dinner parties, quizzes and tugs of war, involving bananas, banana costumes and giant inflatable bananas where possible. To get involved visit foncho.fairtrade.org.uk

Fairtrade bananas arrived in the UK 13 years ago, and 1.2 billion of the Fairtrade fruits are now sold here each year – that’s one in three bananas. But, according to the foundation, many banana farmers and workers have seen their earnings cut in real terms. UK supermarkets have almost halved the price of loose bananas in the last 10 years, while the cost of producing bananas has doubled.

The foundation says it is time for the government to step in, and its Fairtrade Fortnight petition calls on Vince Cable to investigate unfair supermarket pricing practices.

Meanwhile the Co-operative Group is planning its most high-profile Fairtrade Fortnight programme to date. Promotional pricing and free taster sessions will promote Fairtrade products in its stores, with a special focus on Fairtrade Argentinian wine, which it has now stocked for 10 years.

The Group is flying in two Argentinian wine producers to speak at wine tastings in every UK region. The events will include a guided tasting of four wines and details of how the society is going beyond Fairtrade by helping producers become co-ops and build trading relationships with Co-operative food stores.

Daniela Cedrón, who will visit Belfast, York, Stirling and Barrow-in-Furness, comes from a family that has been growing grapes for La Riojana co-op since its establishment in 1940. Thanks to La Riojana, Daniela’s grandmother was able to build her house and her mother was able to finish her studies. Daniela works for La Riojana’s export department, where she has witnessed the birth of Fairtrade and the impact it has had. An important part of her work has been with the Co-operative Group.

Luisa Bordon, headteacher of Colegio Nacional Agrotecnico, a secondary school attended by La Riojana workers’ children, will visit Co-operative stores in Chipping Ongar, Hereford, London and Swansea. The school was built with the Fairtrade premium and additional funding from the Co-operative as part of its Join In Fairtrade programme.

The two women will talk to co-operative members about their products and the difference that Fairtrade has made to their community and will visit schools, colleges and universities during Fairtrade Fortnight. The Group is also working with hundreds of schools, churches and other organisations to hold Fairtrade events and is producing a “Join In Fairtrade” kit, designed to enable people to hold their own events.

• Sommeliers and wine experts will facilitate smaller wine tasting events, without the producer. Members can book or find out more by calling 0800 088 4862 or visiting: www.co-operative.coop/fairtrade

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