Fairtrade battle is bearing fruit in Norwich

A group of Norwich fairtrade fruit campaigners said they would continue helping exploited fruit farmers from all corners of the globe – from their base in Magdalen Street.

The not-for-profit organisation Banana Link has been campaigning for better working conditions for workers in third world countries for 14 years.

They have helped fruit farmers, particularly in the banana trade, to make use of the help offered to them by the bigger fairtrade food companies such as UK Food Group, Trade Justice Movement and Fairtrade Foundation.

Fuelled by the injustices that they had seen in the South America and the Caribbean, the group established themselves in Norfolk to try to help.

National co-ordinator of Banana Link Jacqui Mackay, who lives in Nelson Street, runs the Norwich office along with finance manager Helen Mian, of West Parade, and administrator Liz Day, of Unthank Road.

She said: 'The workers are exposed to a huge range of health problems and it is a really stark contrast to how people work in the developed world. One in four bananas in the UK now comes through a fairtrade organisation, but the other ways that bananas are grown is really terrible.

'We are just a tiny organisation, but our strength is in our partnerships with Christian Aid, Fair Trade Foundation and trade unions. It is about us building those relationships in all different parts of the world to increase the capacity we have to make more impact and raise awareness.'

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Banana Link has helped fairtrade food grow by almost a fifth over the last two years. Fairtrade food grew by 64pc to reach sales of �749m, showing that work by bodies such as Banana Link is beginning to make an impact.

Ms Mackay said: 'I remember being involved with a street play and all kinds of things to try to promote awareness years ago. I remember trying to get cafes in Norwich to offer fairtrade coffee and now there's no coffee shop you can go into that doesn't.

'Sainsbury's only sells fairtrade bananas so I think nearly everyone knows now.'

To find out about Banana Link visit www.bananalink.org.uk and for the Make Fruit Fair campaign visit www.makefruitfair.org.uk

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or on email david.freezer@archant.co.uk