Fairtrade makes a huge difference, banana farmer tells Rathfarnham Friends

Buying Fairtrade products makes a huge difference to the lives of farmers and producers, a banana farmer from the Dominican Republic told  Rathfarnham Friends when she visited their Meeting on 6th March.

DSCN1572Maria Genao, who undertook a speaking tour of Ireland to mark Fairtrade Fortnight, said that the impact that Fairtrade had on the lives of small producers were many. “It ensures our work as producers by protecting the market throughout the year, by helping us in many ways to keep growing and by being there through tough times when we are in need,” she said.

Maria, who works on her mother’s 3.5 hectare farm, said that the premium Fairtrade farmers received gave them stability during fluctuations in the market, like when there was no rain for 18 months, which drastically impacted the amount of bananas produced. It also enabled communities to put money into health and education and allowed farmers to live with dignity.

Maria has also set up a handcraft business, which sees local women and young people making baskets and table cloths from banana fibres. She hopes to find an export market for these items in the near future and to explore the possibilities of making other products from banana fibres.

DSCN1579Rathfarnham Friends were pleased to be joined by Friends from other Meetings – adults and children – to hear their special speaker.

The twelve children present were interested to hear that Maria and her family eat bananas at every meal and that, as well as eating ripe yellow bananas and banana pancakes, they cook green bananas, which they mash like mashed potatoes.

Rathfarnham Meeting made a commitment some years ago to only buying Fairtrade tea and coffee. To find out more about Fairtrade, see www.fairtrade.ie.