Bananas are one of the most popular and most consumed fruits in the world. Yet, large multinational corporations control a large percentage of the banana trade; Dole and Chiquita together control more than 50%. Most bananas are produced in the Caribbean and Central and South America, and reports of unfair labor conditions among the large corporate plantations abound. Fair Trade is cutting out the corporate influence by providing banana farmers a direct connection into the marketplace.
- Without Fair Trade, fruit farmers often receive only a few cents a pound for their crop, far below the cost of production. In Ecuador, the cost of basic necessities for a family of four is $9.60 a day, but on non-Fair Trade farms, workers may earn as little as $3 a day, according to TransFair USA.
- A 2002 Human Rights Watch report claims that banana workers in Ecuador are the victims of serious human rights abuses. The report found that Ecuadorian children as young as eight work on banana plantations. The children earned an average of $3.50 per day, which is approximately 60% of the legal minimum wage for banana workers.
- Fair Trade certification for bananas, and other fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, and grapes, ensures that farmers receive a fair price for their fruit, and that farmworkers have good working conditions and receive fair wages. According to TransFair USA, the Fair Trade price is set to allow farmers to cover the costs of sustainable production, without the use of harmful agrochemicals, and provide a decent standard of living for farming families.
- Fair Trade farms are thoroughly inspected at least once a year to ensure that these standards are met.
- In addition to the fair price, small farmer cooperatives and plantation worker organizations receive a premium to invest in education, healthcare and crop diversification.
"With Fair Trade we have an incentive to invest in social programs that benefit producers and the community. We also receive higher incomes to sustain ourselves. If it were not for Fair Trade, we wouldn't exist as banana producers since the amount we receive for a box of conventional bananas does not cover our expenses."
~ Edinson Cabana Zapata, member, ASOPROBAN, Colombia