The Fairtrade message was brought home to parishioners in St Cedma’s Larne and St John’s Glynn after a visit by banana producer Cornelius Lynch.
On Sunday March 1 Cornelius, who lives on St Lucia in the Windward Islands, left the congregations of the two parishes in no doubt as to the value of the Fairtrade Foundation to small-scale producers around the world but in particular the 1,300 banana farmers on St Lucia.
St Lucia’s economy is dependent on the banana industry and tourism. As well as farming his own land, Cornelius spends five days a week at the offices of the St Lucia National Fairtrade Organisation where he oversees the operation of the island’s 13 Fairtrade groups, ensuring they are able to comply with Fairtrade standards and principles.
Cornelius also helps with the implementation of community projects funded by the Fairtrade premium – an additional $1 a box paid by banana import companies. He said that recently the organisation provided a water tank for a school, vital to keep the school open during their dry season, computers for schools to allow their children to keep up with technological advances, wheelchairs for handicapped elderly and an autoclave for the local hospital. None of this would have been possible without people in the west purchasing Fairtrade bananas.
When Sainsbury’s announced it would convert all of its banana supplies to Fairtrade, Dr Kenny D Anthony, Prime Minister of St Lucia, said: “In this era of competitive global trade, small-scale farmers like ours have little or no chance of survival without the kind of market intervention that is provided through Fairtrade. Not only does Fairtrade guarantee a fair price to our farmers, but the social premium that is generated through the Fairtrade sales provides valuable support for projects in rural communities throughout the Windward Islands.”
The Rev Martin Hilliard, curate at St Cedma’s and St John’s said afterwards: “We are grateful to Cornelius for coming to tell us of his life and work and I urge everyone to Change Today, Choose Fairtrade products everytime”.