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Golden Exotics Bananas - the power of the Premium

Ghana is one of the biggest exporters of Fairtrade cocoa but it also supplies Fairtrade bananas, so when we visited Ghana in 2022 we just had to go and see what goes on at a banana farm.

Joanna writes:

My relationship with Golden Exotics started at the end of 2020 when I was sent an audio file by Richard Wiafe who works at the farm and is part of their 20 strong Fairtrade Premium committee. Because the farm is a company with employees rather than a co-operative, the workers elect colleagues to represent them and decide how to spend the Fairtrade and organic premiums.

The whole farm is Fairtrade certified, and around a third of it is also Organic certified. When a buyer comes along - usually a European supermarket chain - they decide whether they want to buy the bananas as organic, Fairtrade or both. There is a community premium paid for both Fairtrade and organic bananas, with the Fairtrade premium being slightly more generous. Obviously it's ideal to sell bananas on both Fairtrade and organic terms because then two sets of premiums are paid.

Because the bananas have to be sold, some buyers choose to just pay for the bananas without a certification (which means that people are buying bananas produced under both Fairtrade and organic conditions but if they don't have the sticker the buyer has not paid the proper price.

This is us with the Golden Exotics Fairtrade premium committee meeting last October to decide what to spend their money on:

Golden Exotics has been in existence for 20 years and Fairtrade certified for ten. In that time the premiums have made a huge difference for the workers and their families. Richard is a great case in point: After arriving with no qualifications, in seven years he has used the education bursary to put himself through college and is now studying international development at university alongside his work. His baby daughter is looked after at the creche and will attend the basic and Junior High schools - all paid for by Fairtrade premiums and open to all workers' children. Richard once described the difference Fairtrade made: "It turned me from a person who eats once a day to a person who eats twice a day"

All the workers come from local villages and come to work by bus. The buses were paid for by the Fairtrade premium but they are leased back to the company as an income generation project.

But perhaps the best thing that the Fairtrade premium is doing, is in the villages which surround the farm. This is a really rural part of the Greater Accra region - around two hours drive from the capital. On the day we visited they didn't know if we could make it as the rains had washed the roads away, but we got there!

One of the challenges of rural Ghana - like a lot of places in Africa - is access to clean water. So four years ago the committee decided to make it a priority to bring clean water to the villages around the farm where their workers live. They drew a circle around the farm, and dedicated their funds to providing clean water to all the villages within that zone. Then the following year, when they had succeeded, they drew a larger circle and provided water for those villages, and so on. In the last four years over 4,000 people have acquired access to clean water simply because we choose to buy Fairtrade bananas.

So thank you to everyone who picks up a bunch of bananas with the Fairtrade mark on, you are changing lives with this simple act.

To see our videos from Golden Exotics head over to our YouTube channel

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