In the tiny Windward Islands of the Caribbean, low retail prices for bananas coupled with ever lowering import tariff levels for non-ACP bananas entering the EU* have spelt disaster for small scale banana producers. More than 20,000 of 25,000 farmers have gone out of business since 1992.
Of the remaining farmers, more than 90% are now Fairtrade certified and this has transformed the lives and businesses of these small banana farmers. Fairtrade guarantees a minimum price that covers the real costs of production, high environmental standards that reduce pesticide use as well as a social premium invested by farmer groups in their local communities. The Fairtrade premium has funded schools, health facilities, roads, pipe borne water, equipment for disadvantaged groups and provided disaster relief.
These farmers depend upon access to the British market to sell their Fairtrade fruit and so Banana Link's Support Caribbean Bananas campaign is putting pressure on supermarkets to make long-term commitments to sourcing bananas from the Windward Islands.
We work closely with The Windward Islands Farmers' Association (WINFA), a confederation of small farmers' organisations supporting small scale farmers in St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica and Martinique. Banana Link are also Charity Stakeholders of the Fairtrade Foundation.
* Bananas from non-ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) sources are subject to a tariff when entering the EU. Those from ACP countries enter tariff free however following a WTO ruling in 2009 the tariff level for non-ACP bananas is being reduced over the next few years making it ever harder for Caribeban bananas to compete. For the UK market on ACP mainly applies to bananas from Latin America but as the EU negotitates bilateral trade agreements with individual countries - or groupings of - in the region even lower tariffs are being introduced.