Why the World Needs Fairtrade Bananas
Photo: Feliciana Quintero holds a fairtrade banana hand ready for export. COOBANA, Panamá. PHoto: James Rodriguez
What other fruit grows in its own packaging that comes off so easily?!
As a nation, we love bananas. We each consume about 26 pounds of them a year. The world loves bananas – it’s 4th most important food staple!
But this tropical fruit comes with a whole host of issues. Workers’ rights violations and environmental destruction just to name a few.
The typical banana plantation uses over 10 times more pesticides than in the production of other crops in industrialized countries. These chemicals can seriously impact the health of the workers and the wildlife.
Workers have few rights and have to work really hard for low pay. 12-14 hour days are common, with little to no assurance that they’ll have a job the next month.
Why are conditions so bad?
One of the main problems is that only about 20% of the price you pay will reach the exporting country. And of that, only a tiny fraction will go into the workers’ hands. This is because 5 major corporations control 80% of the global banana market. Prices are kept low intentionally – at the cost of people and the environment.
How does Fairtrade change this?
Fairtrade certifies smallholder farms or plantations only if they meet high social and environmental standards. Farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their bananas. And workers are guaranteed a wage that meets or exceeds the national minimum wage to avoid exploitation. These measures offer stability and guard them from fluctuating prices.
Furthermore, banana farmers get a Fairtrade Premium. Farmer cooperatives democratically vote on what to spend the Premium – some choose to build a school, some a clinic, and some to re-invest it in state-of-the-art farming equipment.
Fairtrade also improves workers’ rights – guaranteeing them the opportunity to join a union if they so wish, thereby having a stronger collective voice. Children under the age of 15 are not allowed to work, and farms and plantations must put in place health and safety measures that protect workers and the environment.
What can you do?
Look for the Fairtrade MARK! (It’s at the top of our website)
You can be sure that bananas with a Fairtrade Mark have met our independently audited standards and more money is going back to the people who grew your delicious fruit.
Ask your local store to stock Fairtrade bananas like Oké USA, which sources Fairtrade bananas from Peru. YOU have the power to make real change that will affect so many lives.
If there is demand, you can bet your supermarket will be stocking Fairtrade faster than you can watch a slip-on-a-banana-peel gag.