Go Bananas for Harry

BANANAS – we love ‘em!

When I was asked to go to Ghana 12 years ago to visit some Fairtrade banana farms, I thought, “They must know I am a well-known collector of the stickers that you get on banana skins.” I’ve got more than 10 now…

Now I am supporting the Fairtrade Foundation’s call to ‘Stick with Foncho’. Foncho is a banana farmer from Colombia and the face of the campaign to make all bananas fair. I remember from my trip how much hard work goes into growing bananas and what a difference a fair price can make to whole communities.

Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world. In the UK we munch our way through more than five billion a year and one in three of them are now Fairtrade. That means two thirds are not fair bananas.

It would make sense that such a big industry with such a popular product would be profitable for everyone involved in producing and supplying the market.

In fact, bananas in the UK are priced at a level that is not really profitable for retailers or the companies they buy from.

This means small-scale farmers and workers like Foncho face an ever-tightening squeeze on their living standards, trapping them in a bigger and bigger cycle of poverty. Many can’t afford to put enough food on the table for their families or basics such as education and healthcare.

The Fairtrade banana farmers I visited in Ghana 12 years ago have since built schools, clinics and much more with their Fairtrade premium – thanks to the hard work and dedication of farmers together with the shoppers over here buying Fairtrade. But, more importantly, the workers feel empowered knowing they are selling their bananas on better terms of trade.

This Fairtrade Fortnight (February 24 to March 9) we’re calling on the Government to work with supermarkets to treat all banana farmers and workers fairly. Go to the website www.stickwithfoncho.org.uk to sign the on-line petition. I have created my own personalized banana sticker there to show my support for Foncho and other bananas farmers. Please join me and do the same.

Harry Hill