A new policy report from the Fairtrade foundation, Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars: Why cheap bananas threaten farmers’ futures looks at how price pressures in many banana producing countries have led to job losses, the casualisation of labour and the marginalising of smallholder producers. These in turn negatively affects wages, access to services and the environmental sustainability of banana production.
As Pascal Liuviii, senior economist at FAO and manager of the World Banana Forum notes in the report, failure to implement sustainability principles in the banana sector can be attributed to very low producer prices, which in turn are related to low consumer prices. When producers do not get enough pay they are not able to invest in sustainable production methods.
The report describes the banana value chain and market environment and goes on to recommend steps for creating a more sustainable banana industry. Recommendations include creating an inclusive market, assisting communities in creating decent work with living wages and ensuring the right to unionise as well as including social and environmental externalities in pricing. They also conclude with specific recommendations aimed at key stakeholders: the UK’s Defra and DFID, the EU and FAO, and civil society organisations, market regulators, business and the public).