YOUNGSTERS at Commonweal School have been doing their bit to raise money for the plight of banana farmers during Fairtrade Fortnight.

Until Sunday The Fairtrade Foundation is running a special campaign around banana farmers like Columbian Albeiro Alfonso ‘Foncho’ Cantillo, who has spoken out against the rising cost of production while prices in supermarkets fall.

To help raise awareness of Foncho’s plight, students at the Old Town school led assemblies and petitioned members of the public.

Gary Nash, who works with the special educational needs team at Commonweal, led the project which taught children about the importance of fair trade.

He said: “It’s Fairtrade Fortnight and students in Year 7 and Year 8 have been leading assemblies every day.

“The campaign this year is centering on Foncho, a Columbian banana farmer. Farming bananas has been in his family for generations but they have been affected by the financial crisis, meaning production costs have continued to get more expensive and increased by 200 per cent.

“If you go around the shops you can get a banana for 11p, and that’s imported, meanwhile you can get a home-grown apple for 20p.

“So this fortnight has been about raising awareness of that and how the farmers are struggling to meet their costs.”

To help raise awareness, Gary took students from Commonweal to the Co-Op food store in Old Town to petition shoppers and give them a taste of Fairtrade goods.

Gary said: “I did this with my old school so when I came to Commonweal I took it on.

“Commonweal has been doing things with Fairtrade for years, and the Co-Op have been really supportive.

“They gave us £30 worth of food to offer as free samples to shoppers as we came into the store as part of trying to encourage more people to buy Fairtrade.”

Twelve-year-old Marni Ward, who is in Year 7, was one of the students offering the free samples.

She said: “Fairtrade is really important because it’s not fair for someone who works day and night to pick bananas or other foods but don’t get that much in return.

“We had quite a lot of interest and lots of people signed the petition. There were four double pages of signatures.”

Among the foods offered as samples were cookies, bananas, juices, health bars and chocolate.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Emanuel-sen, in Year 11, said: “We’ve being trying to help more fairtrade in farmers by offering samples to people and asking them to sign a petition.

“Fairtrade is important to me because I really want to help the people who need trading to be fair out there.”

To find out more about the campaign from the Fairtrade Foundation, visit

To sign the petition to stop supermarket prices putting farmers out of pocket, visit: