Maranda St John Nicolle on the importance of making the banana trade fair as the yellow fruit becomes the theme of the 2014 Fairtrade Fortnight.
Bananas growing in St Lucia. Photo by Simon Rawles.
When I visited Dominica in 2010, banana farmer Cato Ferreira commented: “Forty years ago bananas used to be sold in England on the bunch … Someone else would hand it (split up the bunches), treat them, box them, put them into the supermarket. 40 years later we end up doing everything, yet the price does not compensate us for our work.”
Other food prices, he noted, have gone up, but the cost of bananas has gone down and down. “Every housewife is looking to receive cheaper food. But I sometimes think…: ‘Don’t you have a conscience to [wonder] why 40 years ago [you] used to pay much more for a banana in the supermarket?”
It was a good point. For years, most supermarkets have competed with each other in cutting the price of bananas, hoping to attract customers to their stores. But they’ve passed the cuts in prices on to banana farmers around the world, leaving them unable to cover the costs of sustainable production. That’s not right.
This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign aims to change the way things work. It’s called “Stick with Foncho to Make Bananas Fair,” Foncho being a Colombian banana farmer who is the figurehead for the campaign. You can find out more about Foncho, the campaign, and what you can do to help, at foncho.fairtrade.org.uk
One way to help is to buy Fairtrade bananas. And you can do two good things at once by holding a Big Brew tea party in support of Traidcraft, and using Fairtrade bananas as part of your refreshments. Find Big Brew resources at www.traidcraft.co.uk.