Going bananas for trade justice - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
April 13, 2005

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Going bananas for trade justice


Civil servants arriving for work at the DTI were greeted yesterday by the ap-peel-ing sight of two six-foot tall bananas campaigning for fair trade.

Members of the silent street theatre group The Bananas got under the skin of the government officials by handing them real bananas bearing the message "Donít forget the farmer who grew this banana".

The aim was to highlight the cause of Fairtrade banana farmers in the Windward Islands whose livelihoods, campaigners say, are threatened by new EU proposals.

The current quota system, which ensures preferential treatment for African, Caribbean and Pacific banana producers, is to be replaced by January 2006 with a single tariff for all.

This will give the advantage to low-cost dollar banana producers in Central and South American countries such as Ecuador and Colombia over family farms on the Windward Islands growing sustainable Fairtrade bananas, which cannot compete with cheaply produced bananas from large plantations.

The performers were joined by campaigners from catholic aid agency CAFOD, the Fairtrade Foundation, the Women's Institute and Bananalink, who have joined forces to urge the EU and the UK government to step in and help.

CAFOD campaigns officer Helen Wolfson says: "This is not a level playing field. For them, free trade means loss of their livelihoods. What they need is trade justice.

"If the Caribbean banana industry loses its market as a consequence of the EC proposals, the outcome will be the destruction of a vibrant and successful Fairtrade industry."

Action cards produced by the four organisations have been sent to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson asking him to reconsider the changes.

Source: Cafod

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