Fairtrade in Action
With Fairtrade Fortnight and lots of press focus on bananas recently, we think it’s a good time to look at what a difference the Fairtrade scheme is making to one of our banana suppliers.
Working in this industry, it’s easy to focus on the fruit and the practicalities of shipping, ripening and forecasting. Taking a moment to smell the coffee sometimes is pretty refreshing. The coffee in Colombia is certainly world-renowned, but it’s their banana production that really interests us. The Colombian climate provides a superb quality of banana, with Fairtrade having been embraced wholeheartedly by even the largest producers. Our supplier, Banafrut, has a large network of farms, most of which have now completed their conversion to Fairtrade status.
The main challenge for Banafrut and its workers is undoubtedly quality of housing. For many years, Banafrut has run its own scheme which operates in a similar way to Fairtrade – called ‘Fundafrut’. By returning a percentage of farm profits to be spent by a worker committee for the benefit of their community, some really great work has already been achieved. Through their Fairtrade conversion and the new funding stream that’s come from the Fairtrade premium, so much more has been achieved. A huge building programme has provided further employment and skills training, and has provided a vastly improved standard of living for the workers and their families.
There’s still some way to go, with infrastructure, schooling, healthcare and leisure opportunities all vying for the available cash, but with the high volume of Fairtrade fruit now being sold in the UK particularly, British consumers are able to effect a very visible change. The advances we have seen in our years of trading with and visiting Banafrut are very inspiring and rewarding. The commitment from UK retailers to Fairtrade-certified fruit provides a very real reassurance that what you spend on your 5-a-day is of great benefit to workers and their families at source.