The first Fairtrade bananas from the Windward Islands arrived in England this week. Sainsbury's is the first supermarket to stock them, but they will soon be on the shelves of Co-op and Waitrose stores as well. The Fairtrade Mark was introduced to protect small farmers in the third world from being exploited by large companies. Thousands of small farm owners in the Caribbean are struggling to make a living out of bananas but they are finding it difficult to survive against the competition of the big Latin American plantations, which rely on cheap labour and can undercut smaller producers. CAFOD is one of the founders of the Fairtrade Mark. The mark guarantees a better deal for Third World producers. It ensures products are grown under internationally recognised standards of fair trade. These include pledging that workers get a decent wage and living conditions. Many goods are also grown organically. Maria Elena Arana, from CAFOD, applauds Sainsbury's, Waitrose and the Co-op for giving customers the option to buy Fairtrade bananas. She said: "Pope John Paul II says that we consumers in the developed world are the indirect employers of food producers in the underdeveloped world. "The Pope says consumers have a responsibility to improve the conditions of these people. An ideal way to do this is by buying Fairtrade food. By choosing Fairtrade bananas, you will be directly helping small farm owners and co-operatives to improve their lives and communities. You also will be encouraging the supermarkets to expand their stock of Fairtrade goods. Not bad going for the price of a banana." Maria Elena says CAFOD can see on the ground the positive effects of the Fairtrade initiative in the development of poor communities. Tea, coffee and chocolate with a Fairtrade label are already available in some supermarkets. Maria Elena said: "Consumer power can be a huge force for positive change, and anyone who cares about ending poverty should buy Fairtrade goods."
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