There follows one simple example why the Traidcraft Foundation aims support the above fortnight. It is to help change the lives of farmers and their families like those who grow bananas. The banana is the fourth most traded and popular fruit in the world. It stands only behind rice, wheat and maize. In the UK we eat over 5 billion bananas a year and in 2012 we spent over £550 million on them. But only 1 in 3 sold in British shops are Fairtrade ones!
The majority of these bananas are imported by supermarkets, whose competition with one another, has forced down the price paid to the producers. In the last ten years the banana shelf price has almost halved whilst the cost of production has doubled. The British consumer now pays an average of 11p for each loose one grown abroad compared with about 20p for a home-grown apple!
For example in Columbia the farm costs have increased 200%, the cost in shipping 200% whilst the cost of living 85%. Smallholder farmers and plantation workers are still experiencing a poverty-level existence. The impact of climate change and the issues of food security have an added effect on production. It is only the help of Fairtrade premiums that has helped to deliver fairer production prices to those hard pushed Columbian producer organisations.
One Columbian farmer, who inherited his father’s farm, gets up at 4am daily then spends 12 hours working. He shares a processing facility. His livelihood depends on what he crops. So far the Fairtrade Minimum Price has helped to cover the cost of sustainable production as well as helping him to increase the quality of the crop and maintain his property. The Co-Operative Organisation, of which he is a member, has managed to provide social security for its members. This is an example as to what can happen through Fairtrade. These Fairtrade standards and minimum prices are also regularly reviewed.
Because of the grip that supermarkets have on the banana market one ought to consider (a) buying Fairtrade bananas and (b) signing, if one has the chance, the Fairtrade petition in the fortnight beginning the 24 February.
Contributor David Williams