Fairtrade Network of Asian ProducersFAIRTRADE
Find Products » Banana
Come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. In popular culture and commerce, "banana" usually refers to soft, sweet "dessert" bananas. They are native to tropical Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea. Today, they are cultivated throughout the tropics. They are grown in at least 107 countries, primarily for their fruit, and to a lesser extent to make fiber, banana wine and as ornamental plants.(Wikipedia)
Bananas are one of the most important foods for both consumption and trade. Almost 100 million metric tonnes of bananas are consumed every year, of which about 15 million are exported. They are the fourth most important food staple in the world and the fifth most-traded agricultural commodity (after cereals, sugar, coffee and cocoa), generating billions of dollars.
In the banana industry, production, profits, and market access are highly concentrated. Just five corporations control around 80% of the sales on the banana import market worldwide. Meanwhile, it is hard for small banana farmers and workers on banana plantations to earn a living, and they often work and live in difficult conditions.
Only about 20 % of the prices paid by consumers in supermarkets reach exporting country. Salaries of workers and income of farmers reflect only a small fraction of total revenue. Important cost components in banana industry include packing materials, fertilizers and pesticides.
While large plantations can efficiently produce cheap, export-ready bananas for Northern markets, there are a number of inherent problems in the system. Large corporations involved in banana production have historically had negative influence over Latin American governments in the countries where their plantations are based.
The conditions and prices prioritize the cheapest production possible, even when this violates labour rights or is environmentally destructive. For example, huge quantities of pesticide and fungicide spray are used to prevent the spread of disease on large plantations.
The typical banana plantation in Central America uses up to 70 kilograms of pesticides per hectare per year – over 10 times more than is used in the production of other crops in industrialized countries. These chemical sprays may have a serious impact on the health of workers and people living in the area, as well as the surrounding wildlife.
Moreover, as a result of the steady decrease in banana prices over the past decades, the daily life of many plantation workers and small farmers in producer countries is deteriorating. In many plantations, work days can be very long, often between 12 to 14 hours with overtime unpaid. The majority of workers lack work security or protection against sudden lay-offs, and many employers only offer short contracts of six months or less.
Bananas bearing the Fairtrade Certification Mark have been produced by small farmer organizations or in plantations that meet high social and environmental standards. Farmers who produce Fairtrade certified bananas are guaranteed a Fairtrade minimum price to cover the costs of sustainable production and a Fairtrade Premium of US$ 1 per 18.14kg-box of bananas to invest in projects in their communities.
The Fairtrade standards for banana production differ between small farmers' organizations and plantations. However the Fairtrade minimum prices and Premium are set at the same level for both types of organization. (Fairtrade Labelling organization.)