Intense competition amongst retailers means the price of bananas in Canada keeps dropping. The result for farmers and workers is that growing bananas for a living is becoming unsustainable.
All About Bananas
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world, a staple food for millions of people, and a major export that forms the cornerstone of many countries’ economies. In Canada, bananas account for 9% of all fresh fruit imports – a value of over half a billion dollars a year.
The banana industry is labour-intensive, and can be harsh for the environment. Climate change and plant diseases threaten yields, while large multinationals wield considerable influence in a sector that requires significant infrastructure to harvest and transport the quick-ripening fruits.
Bananas are one of the cheapest fruits in the grocery store. But there are ‘hidden costs’ not included in the price we pay that impact farmers and workers, the environment, and their communities. Pesticide use, land occupation, water source depletion, and human-rights violations are common problems in banana-growing regions.
Fairtrade works with small-scale banana farmers and workers on larger plantations, with 90% of production located in Latin America and the Caribbean. Fairtrade sets a Minimum Price for bananas, which aims to cover the costs of sustainable production and acts as a safety net when the market falls below that. An additional Fairtrade Premium is paid per pound of bananas. Small-scale farmers use this to fund improvements to their farms and processing facilities, as well as community projects. Workers on plantations invest much of the Premium into housing, education, healthcare and other services.
Two decades of experience mean that our system is a leader in addressing supply chain risks, and a number of European countries now see at least half of all banana sales as Fairtrade. We are working to achieve similar results in Canada so that banana farmers and workers can earn a living wage, protect their local environment, and work in decent conditions. The 2019 Behind the Peel campaign was our first national campaign dedicated to getting Canadians to tell retailers that they want Fairtrade products. We continue to advocate for fair wages and safe working conditions for banana farmers and workers.
Fairtrade has had a really positive impact. Women have been able to participate effectively since the beginning. This year I’ve been on the board, and it’s been gratifying. The most important thing for us is the stability and a fair price, stability that we will sell our bananas 52 weeks of the year.Germania Capa, a banana farmer with ASOGUABO in Ecuador
Below are some highlights about the impact that Fairtrade has on the banana industry. You can click on a graphic to learn more about the subject.