Not just a fruit bowl favorite, bananas are also the staple food for many people in developing countries.
Although boosting the market for Fairtrade bananas in the United States and around the world has been successful, there are still challenges that continue to severely impact the trade.
Bananas are cultivated by millions of farmers and workers in tropical climates both on small family farms and large-scale commercial farms.
The banana industry is a large source of employment in West Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and Southeast Asia and not just for the people who grow them but also for thousands in distribution networks and supermarkets around the world.
Governments depend on the crucial income the banana industry generates to improve infrastructure, health care, education and more.
For example, around 9% of Ecuador’s export earnings traditionally come from bananas. Most Fairtrade bananas in the United States come from Ecuador.
For the economies of many developing countries, the banana trade is a mainstay. But reports about the complex problems facing the industry have cast a spotlight on workers, highlighting low wages, unstable employment, restrictions on the right to organize themselves and a lack of adequate protection when handling environmentally hazardous chemicals that could pose a threat to their health (something that organic farming methods seeks to address).
Meanwhile, the challenges facing smallholder farmers that depend on bananas for their livelihoods make production unpredictable and unsustainable. These include increasing costs of production, coupled with price stagnation and the severe impact of a changing climate.
Fairtrade works to support banana farmers and workers, with a vision to make sure producers receive a fair price or a fair wage for what they grow. Fairtrade also works to improve the practice of growing bananas, encouraging organic farming and reduced pesticide use.
When you see a banana with the FAIRTRADE Mark, you know it was produced by small farmer organizations or on large-scale farms that meet Fairtrade Standards.
These include the protection of workers’ rights and of the environment, the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium, extra money producers can invest in business or community projects.