The bananeros, banana farmers, in the Piura region of northern Peru have had another kick in the teeth. Often hit by misfortune, the 2012 flooding of their plantations was unprecedented. Their livelihoods were at risk which led one of their buyers, Discovery Organics in Vancouver, to initiate a fundraising campaign for them.
Now they have a different problem – disease. It’s estimated that the region’s producers will face a 45% reduction in their exports this year.
The news in timely. Throughout this year, 2014, the Fairtrade Foundation (UK fairtrade advocacy) have campaigned long and hard to push major supermarkets to supply 100% fairtrade bananas. They personalised this campaign – “Stick With Foncho”. Their efforts are to push major UK supermarkets to switch to 100% fairtrade bananas. Now at year’s end, the pressure is on Asda (owned by Walmart) and Tesco to make the switch.
This is important. Banana farmers (bananeros) have it difficult at the best of times. Hired workers on conventional plantations (such as those owned by Dole and Chiquita) have it worse.
It’s easy to ignore the people behind what we eat. Plenty of people ‘eat local’ but how can you do that with bananas? But I found for myself when I visited these farmers that they have it worse than most. Fairtrade can give these producers a little lifeline. It may be modest, but it helps.
Bananas bear the brunt of cheap agriculture and supermarket price wars. And at this time of year as we’re encouraged to think of others, support fairtrade if you can. Let your local supermarket know too.