The Banana is the most popular fruit in the world. We spend more than £10 billion a year on them! Bananas have long been a popular fairtrade product, and several supermarkets now only sell bananas certified with the fairtrade mark. In 2008 one in every four bananas sold in the UK was fairtrade, but where do they all come from?
Located in the Eastern Carribrean, The Winward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA) have been promoting Fairtrade since the early 90s and the first consignment of Fairtrade bananas from the Windward Islands arrived in the UK in July 2000.
Conrad James is one of over 500 farmers on the islands benefitting from selling the bananas he produces at a fair price. Fairtrade is helping to change peoples’ way of life and is encouraging them to stay in farming rather than get jobs in other industries or leave the island altogether. The fairtrade premium is being used for a variety of community projects ranging from computer equipment in schools to new trucks to deliver fertiliser.
ASOBANU was founded in 1998 and is based near the town of Batey Amina in the northwest of the Dominican Republic. It brings together small-scale farmers who don’t have the capacity to export on their own and who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in Fairtrade. Membership has grown from eight farmers at the beginning to 191 today, including 34 women. The group was Fairtrade certified in 2004 and 102 farms also have organic certification.
The organisation is in a depressed area of the country where the people endure much hardship and work almost entirely in agriculture. The main product is bananas, which has a long tradition here. The ability to own their own land and their own production is very important to farmers as it provides an income and reduces the need to migrate to the capital or abroad.
Fairtrade is benefitting the community and the environment in Asoproban farms in Colombia. Members have access to courses in dental health care, preventive health care and hygiene as well as accountancy and audit techniques. The Agricultural Committee has cut back aerial crop spraying by three cycles to protect workers and the environment. Asoproban now sprays less than many large Colombian plantations but achieves the same levels of quality and productivity.
“A consumer who buys a Fairtrade banana knows that they are contributing to the life of a small producer here in Colombia, and what’s more, they are contributing to a whole lot of different causes and are supporting the health and wellbeing not just of the banana producers but their whole community” – Deris Ariza, Asoproban
Rest of the World
Fairtrade bananas are also supplied by certified producer groups in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Peru and are sold in all major supermarkets throughout the UK, along with other independent outlets