Bananas, black sigatoka and business awards

Now, just as the dust is beginning to settle back onto our Fairtrade banana costume I wanted to share with you my experiences of Fairtrade Fortnight 2012….

Headline figures supplied by Fairtrade Foundation kicked off my enthusiasm for the 14 days ahead.  According to their stats, the movement has continued to grow despite the economic climate with 42% of all sugar purchased in the UK being Fairtrade, and sales overall reaching £1.3 billion.

As the fortnight progressed these figures were proudly included at most events I attended, but the stories around them varied massively.

In London I heard from Rosemary Kadzitche who spoke of the hard work which goes into harvesting peanuts; meanwhile Sandra Rojas told of the massive $60 increase received through Fairtrade ($50 for the seeds and $10 on top in Fairtrade premium) for a 45kg sack of Sesame seeds.

A personal highlight was having banana farmer Tookie from the Windward Islands speak in Leighton Buzzard of the challenges his sector faces.  He spoke of the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas as well as the challenge presented by the spread of black Sigatoka, a disease which affects the yield of a banana plant.  Despite this however, Tookie said the biggest challenge for the farmers was securing the capital they need to ensure the sustainability of their co-operative.

As well as travelling the breadth of the country, I tweeted my way through numerous events from the first Bristol Fairtrade Business Awards to the fifth Witney Fairtrade Fair.  I also attended my first service at St Paul's Cathedral.  This was a celebration of London becoming a Fairtrade Diocese.  When the Bishop encouraged everyone to shout 'Fairtrade' and wave our fair trade flags, it brought a fantastic end to what has been a busy but successful and inspiring fortnight.