Over the last two years, our small team grappled with big emerging trends in the export banana industry, with long-running discussions around living income and living wage for banana plantation workers finally taking form as clearly defined objectives by retailer groups in several European countries, recognising their shared responsibility to transform a sector long characterised by poor pay and poor working conditions in producing countries.
Discussions around the urgency of moving towards more sustainable practices that protect and encourage biodiversity in the banana industry have moved from a marginal position to occupy a central place in the debate, with many recognising the significance of agroecological transition as way forward, with the potential to create robust and healthy systems that stand a much better chance of surviving in the face of diseases like Tropical Race 4.
Banana Link continued to play a key role in industry debates, representing the interests and ideas of our workers’ union and small farmer partners. We continued to fundraise and support the strengthening of our trade union partners in banana producing regions across Latin America, the Caribbean and Central and West Africa. We continued to build our capacity to engage with and advocate for small farmers through working with their cooperatives and associations, despite having extremely limited funding available to do so.
We have said goodbye to several colleagues at the end of these exciting two years, and wish Paul Lievens, Agathe Caublot, Saskia Mak-Pearce and Lee Harbour the best in their new roles and projects. Anna Cooper has moved to a non-executive role with Banana Link and we are grateful for her direction and continued support. Simon Nobbs became our new Finance Manager after several years on the Board of Directors, meanwhile we said goodbye to Directors Jenny Webber and Bert Schouwenburg and thank them for their many years of support and trade union expertise. We welcomed Jennie Coleman, Director of Canadian Fairtrade banana importer and marketer Equifruit, to our Board, and Sacnicte Bonilla Hernandez, a specialist in small farmers and agroecology, to our staff team. We remain extremely grateful to colleagues who contribute their time and energy to Banana Link on a voluntary basis.
Thank you to our trade union and small farmer cooperative partners who continue to navigate extremely challenging conditions to try and secure a better income and a better life for the workers and farmers they represent. And finally, thank you to our funders who have continued to support our work through some big global upheavals.
We hope you enjoy reading some of the highlights from our work together during 2021-22.