One of the reasons that FT Banana is travelling on the Ferry is to draw attention to NorthLink’s new policy of buying Fairtrade bananas. Bananas are big sellers; among the supermarkets’ largest profitmakers, yet only the Co-op and Sainsburys stock all Fairtrade. Well, I suppose Waitrose does too, but as they haven’t managed to make it to the North East, yet alone Orkney, I think we can discount them at the moment. NorthLink now also buys its bananas from Fairtrade sources. They tell me that they have to buy them very green, to allow them to ripen during the voyage.
Many of our bananas come from the Windward Islands and it was from St Lucia that Conrad James, a banana producer, visited Aberdeen in 2007 during Fairtrade Fortnight. He explained to us how being part of the Fairtrade system had meant that he was able to send his children to school and his life had improved substantially. Later that year there was a huge hurricane in the area and it was only those farmers like Conrad, who had long term Fairtrade contracts, that were able to put their lives back on track fairly quickly. It is always good to put faces to the actual Fairtrade stories.