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British Fairtrade supporters express concern

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Fairtrade supporters, campaigners and consumers last Saturday expressed their continued support for banana farmers in the Windward Islands amidst the great difficulties facing them at present.{{more}} Over the past year, hundreds of Fairtrade banana farmers from Dominica, St.Vincent and St.Lucia have been forced out of the extra-regional export market for a variety of reasons. These include low returns to farmers and problems with certification to meet British supermarket standards.

The plight of the farmers and the crisis in the banana industry as a whole was explained to over 400 Fairtrade supporters by WINFA Coordinator Renwick Rose at a special Supporters Conference held by the Fairtrade Foundation last Saturday at King’s College, London. Rose was one of the major presenters at the Conference, along with the British Minister of International Development Douglas Alexander and Dame Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Foundation and its past Patron, noted BBC journalist George Alagiah.

The gathering was particularly concerned about the negative effects of a destructive “price war” currently engaged in by the major supermarkets in which banana retail prices are set below rock-bottom level in order to attract customers. Rose in a full-page interview with the SUNDAY OBSERVER newspaper described this as “a scandalous way of doing business at the expense of the farmers.” He accused those supermarkets of “using our product for their own ends without any commensurate returns for farmers”.

The actions of the supermarkets have not found favour with the Fairtrade supporters who assured Rose of their continued commitment to support Fairtrade and bananas from the Fairtrade farmers of the Windward Islands.

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