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Banana drive is fair play

School pupils in Wales may soon be able to help Caribbean children simply by eating bananas!

As part of a new campaign, Oxfam Cymru is urging all education authorities in Wales to buy fairly-traded bananas from developing countries.

Seventeen million bananas are consumed by Welsh primary pupils every year under the "Fruit for Schools" scheme. According to Oxfam Cymru's policy officer Jon Townley, this means that hundreds of families in the Windward Isles could be lifted out of poverty if all schools were to take part.

Oxfam says the switch need not cost councils much more. The idea is that a school in Wales will be able to point to a new school or playing field in a Caribbean village that has resulted from the bananas they have eaten.

"It's great that some Welsh local authorities are already committed to sourcing locally-produced fruit, but we'd like all the bananas they buy to carry the Fairtrade mark," said Mr Townley.

Bananas with a Fairtrade label have been produced on small farms or plantations. Producers are guaranteed a minimum price and a supplement is paid on every box, which is ploughed back into making improvements for the community.

Wrexham Oxfam shop manager Swati Sharples visited banana producers on three Caribbean islands this year and is now back in the town spreading the word.

"Many farmers can no longer sell their bananas at a decent price because of competition," she said.

Swati said many families cannot afford to send their children to school and classrooms are often overcrowded. "I think it's important for teachers in Wales to know how important Fairtrade is because they can tell children that we can all do something to help."

No local authorities have given a commitment to the banana initiative yet but many, like Cardiff and Carmarthenshire, already offer Fairtrade goods in school vending machines.

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