Southwark Council goes bananas for Fairtrade Fortnight

28 February 2018

Southwark Council has welcomed Marcial Quintero, one of the founding members of a banana cooperative in Panama, to learn more about the difference that Fairtrade can make to the lives of workers and their communities around the world.

Southwark is home to the first Fairtrade Diocese in London and the borough is working toward renewing its Fairtrade status.

Southwark Council is proud to be supporting Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 and as part of the council’s celebrations, council staff had the opportunity to hear a talk from Marcial Quintero, one of the founding members of banana cooperative COOBANA in Panama.

The COOBANA cooperative (Cooperativa Bananera del Atlantico) was set up in 1991 by a group of banana farmers and workers including Marcial. In the last 25 years they have become Fairtrade certified and are creating a new way of working for members. Their biggest aim is for local people to see themselves as owners of land and entrepreneurs who can control their own destiny.

Bananas are an important crop for people living in Panama and for many years the leading export crop. Until recently banana production was monopolised by national organisations, meaning farmers and workers had little control over their communities or their future and were tied into rock bottom wages. 
Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 (February 26- March 11) is the UK’s biggest annual campaign when people across the nation show their support for the farmers and workers toiling every day to produce the things we love to eat, drink and wear.

Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Social Regeneration, said: “As a borough, we are committed to renewing our Fairtrade status and we look forward to welcoming speakers such as Marcial, helps us learn more about why Fairtrade is so important to communities around the world.

“The Fairtrade mark guarantees that farmers receive fair wages for their labour and produce. In the spirit of Fairtrade Fortnight I would encourage everyone to try and include at least one Fairtrade product in your regular shopping. Small changes in your shopping habits can have a huge impact on people on the other side of the world.”

Marcial says: “Since starting with Fairtrade it’s made a mega-revolution in our lives. The first thing that our members chose to focus on was the desperate living conditions. We all used to live, cook and sleep in small apartments, with all the family in the same room. We didn’t see any benefits, development or profit from growing bananas. But now I have my own home for my family and we manage our own cooperative.”

Page last updated: 28 February 2018

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