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Schoolkids in Bexhill calling for fair prices for banana producers (photo: A Brennan).

Bananas the focus of Fairtrade Fortnight

If you see human bananas cavorting around the town centres in Bexhill or Hastings this week, don’t be alarmed – they’re part of the Fairtrade Fortnight campaign for banana producers to be paid a fair price by British supermarkets. Nick Terdre reports.

Banana producers are the losers in a price war being fought out by most supermarket chains – the Coop and Sainsburys are the two honourable exceptions which stock 100% fairly traded bananas, Jack Doherty, chairman of the Bexhill Fairtrade Committee, told HOT. Check it out next time you’re in Asda, Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco or other supermarkets – you’ll find some bananas with the Fairtrade sticker and most without.

The Fairtrade Foundation has brought over Colombian banana producer Foncho to head the campaign during Fairtrade Fortnight, which began on 24 February and runs until 9 March. Over the past 10 years, the typical price of a banana in the UK – our favourite fruit – has nearly halved, while the cost of production has doubled, the foundation says. You can sign their petition calling on business secretary Vince Cable to investigate unfair supermarket pricing practices.

Local Fairtrade groups are also in action. Last week pupils from St Mary Magdalene primary school and Bexhill High, accompanied by members of the Bexhill fairtrade activists, strolled through the town centre distributing leaflets and stickers urging shoppers to ‘stick with Foncho.’

Bexhill mayor Frances Winterborn and MP Greg Barker, flanked by Fairtrade activists at Sainsbury's (photo: F McKenna).

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight Bexhill and Battle MP Greg Barker and Bexhill Town Mayor Cllr Frances Winterborn joined a Fairtrade delegation on visits to the local Coop and Sainsbury’s to publicise their Fairtrade banana commitment. The Bexhill committee has launched a petition seeking support to make Bexhill the first town in Britain with 100% fairly traded bananas, Jack Doherty says.

Back in Bexhill Fairtrade fortnight events have included Fairtrade breakfasts, coffee mornings and visits to schools and scout groups. Next Friday Jack Doherty and some of his colleagues will be taking the mayor and the MP to Visionary Soap, the ethical soap manufacturer which has just moved to new premises for creative and social enterprises opened by Hastings Furniture Stores at the back of its Bexhill branch as part of the Bexhill Artists and Makers project.

In Hastings Traidcraft and Fairtrade activists, aided by a human banana, set up stall in Cambridge Road last Saturday to collect signatures for the Fairtrade Foundation petition – by the end of the weekend nearly 200 had signed, Fairtrade activist Christine Ward told HOT. They will be collecting signatures again on Wednesday 5 March at a pop-up park in Sussex Coast College in the Station Plaza.

Other events in the offing are the annual Fairtrade Fashion Show, which will be held at Bexhill Sixth Form College on Friday 21 March and a Traidcraft stall at the Hastings campus of the University of Brighton in Havelock Road on Monday 24 March.

Posted 18:05 Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014 In: Campaigns

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