A BANANA farmer from St Lucia gave students food for thought as part of Fairtrade Fortnight.
Dorothy Agard’s passionate speech at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville about the importance of supporting Fairtrade was met by cheers and applause as students from all year groups watched her presentation.
‘I appeal for all of you to support the small farmholders of the Windward Islands to keep our industry alive,’ she said.
‘We would like bananas to cost 20p to 25p each so that we could put money by for our children’s futures.’
Despite Dorothy’s crops being damaged by two hurricanes in the past three years, her outlook made a real impression on students.
Jack Silvester, 15, from Westfield Road said: ‘The fact that she can still be hopeful that bananas will one day be completely fair for everyone who grows them was fantastic.’
Joe Hurd, 15, from Selsey Road said: ‘Where she lives is so prone to these natural disasters and I hope Fairtrade will be able to lift them out of their current state.
‘I do normally buy Fairtrade but now I will make sure I definitely do.
Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual event which raises awareness of issues faced by Fairtrade producers.
Two Year 11 pupils then presented Dorothy, 46, with a petition signed by 1,000 students and staff as part of Fairtrade’s Stick With Foncho campaign.
The campaign, which uses the character of a farmer called Foncho, has 14,600 signatures on the Fairtrade website and asks Business Secretary Vince Cable to improve banana prices in supermarkets so farmers get a better deal.
After her presentation, one cheeky student asked Dorothy if she liked bananas, to which she replied: ‘Of course I do.
‘We eat bananas like you eat potatoes – we bake them, we fry them, we eat them green and ripe.’
As part of their schedule during Fairtrade Fortnight, Year 7 students made a display of bananas with messages to Dorothy written on them.
Oaklands has had Fairtrade School status for the last few years.
RE teacher Mugeni Sumba, who is the Fairtrade co-ordinator for Oaklands, said: ‘We use as many Fairtrade ingredients as we can in our canteens, and all our tea and coffee in the staff room has to be Fairtrade.
‘But most importantly we learn about Fairtrade in our curriculum, so RE, geography, food technology and science all have a Fairtrade theme’.
To support the Stick with Foncho campaign go to foncho.fairtrade.org.uk