Crystal Palace set to go bananas for… Fairtrade bananas

FonchoIt is Fairtrade Fortnight at the end of this month, from February 24 to March 9, and during those two weeks, people who live or work in and around Crystal Palace will be hearing a lot about “Foncho”, as the area joins the national “Stick with Foncho” campaign to combat unfair trade in one of the world’s staple fruits, bananas.

The local Transition Town group will be hosting their own events with Colombian banana producer representative, Alexis Martinez Palacios, a former banana plantation worker who now represents the interests of banana producers in Latin America and the Caribbean to Fairtrade International.

Over the last 10 years, chain supermarkets in Britain have almost halved the shelf price of loose bananas, even though the cost of producing bananas has doubled. Most supermarkets battle each other every day through a highly competitive price war driven by their desire to get more customers into their stores. Bananas are now bought and sold so cheaply in the UK that many of the farmers and workers who grow them are being trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Although Fairtrade bananas still guarantee a fair price to the producer, as well as all the other social and environmental benefits guaranteed by Fairtrade, these are sold by supermarkets at a loss to keep their prices competitive. But two-thirds of bananas sold in Britain are still not Fairtrade.

“This is why Crystal Palace Transition Town is asking people not only to buy Fairtrade bananas but also to sign a petition persuading the government to end these unfair practices,” said Lynette Aitken, the head of Crystal Palace Transition Town’s Local And Fair Group.

The “Stick with Foncho” campaign aims to transform the banana industry so that every banana farmer and worker earns enough to have a decent standard of living, works in conditions that are safe and has rights and benefits. It also means bananas are produced in a way that is environmentally sustainable, too.

BananasThe poster boy of the campaign is Albeiro Alfonso “Foncho” Cantillo, a 43-year-old banana farmer from Colombia whose livelihood depends on his small banana farm. He cares deeply about his farm and his bananas as he knows that without them he would struggle to find another job to provide for his family.

Foncho is coming to Britain during Fairtrade Fortnight with a message: “Stick with the farmers who grow your bananas”. You’ll see his face on stickers and posters all over the country.

Win a prize for the best banana recipe

CPTT’s banana producer representative, Alexis, will be judging your banana dishes and handing out prizes in the Upper Norwood Library on Saturday March 1, from 3.30pm, so get your cooks’ hats on.

There are recipe ideas at the special Foncho Fairtrade website or you can make up your own. The organisers ask that you email them (to to say if you want to enter (so they can get an idea of how many people to expect), and then bring along your dish, covered in cling film, between 2 and 3pm on March 1.

As well as participating in the library event, Alexis will also be at a “Hungry Gap” dinner at Domali restaurant on Sunday March 9. This is a repeat of last year’s popular event where a three-course meal, wine and cocktails were all produced using only locally grown and Fairtrade ingredients. Cost: £25 (including wine, beer or soft drink with meal and tea or coffee with chocolates).

Programme of events

Thu Feb 27 – Film night with Fairtrade wine, rum and nibbles at the
Antenna Cafe Thing (Haynes Lane) at 7.30

Sat Mar 1 – the ever-popular bicycle-powered Fairtrade smoothies
outside Sainsbury’s 10am-1pm

Sat Mar 1  – Children’s stories 2.30-3.30 followed by Alexis and
recipe judging till 4.30pm at the library. Email to enter and for more details.

Sat Mar 8 – Fairtrade stall offering a range of products at the Food
Market, Haynes Lane (10am to 3pm)

Sun March 9 – Hungry Gap dinner at Domali restaurant, with Alexis 7.30pm
(booking details to be announced)

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