For a refresher on why fair trade bananas are so important click here.
Visiting the banana farmers at APPBOSA co-op really put in perspective the possibilities, the life changing, empowering opportunities that fair trade can bring. Before I give you examples of that here’s a very brief history of the co-op.
It all started in 1991 when Dole had control over their production and prices. After years of abuse from Dole the farmers became a co-op in 2003 to create better working conditions and also became certified organic. At this point Dole owned the certification and the packaging facility but in 2006 APPBOSA got ownership of the certification and got back control of their packaging facility. Dole tried hard to keep control over the supply chain and warned them they wouldn't be successful. Their first year of profits in 2007 were invested in infrastructure, they had committed buyers like Equifruit and as of 2008 stopped selling to Dole, which at a point was 90% of sales.
The co-op is made up of 82 women and 464 men, earning a minimum of $11 US up to $25 and covers 750 hectares of small scale farms. They ship 1 million boxes per year to Canada, USA, Korea and Europe, who buys 80% of their products.
With their success they have made a huge impact in the lives of farmers and their communities. They very much emphasis the importance of gender equality and sustainable practices. They don’t focus on that just because of the fair trade principles but because those are issue very important to them and the future success of the co-op. A few other things happening there...
- Health and life insurance
- Investment in environmental management
- Working towards carbon neutral certification
- English lessons
- Supporting surrounding villages with education and healthcare
- Water collection and a system to drain salts from production
- Recycle program for the plastic bags used on all the bananas for moisture control (collected and reused)
- Soccer schools to gets kids out of areas of crime and violence
- Free diabetes test
- Prenatal clinics
- Gender equality education in the local schools
Thy top farmer.
Outside of the packaging facility.
Bathing in a lemon and water.
Bananas you'll see in Canada imported by Equifruit.
In conclusion to my trip, I’ve learned that it’s not me changing the world it’s these farmers. Honestly it made me feel useless, like I have no impact in our world at all and that all I’m good for is to be a consumer, but yet the reality is that many people in developing countries want to be like us.
As soon as I arrived in Peru I saw billboards and magazine advertising for a popular Peruvian clothing brand that makes alpaca products and noticed that the models were white people. I had a difficult time processing the power white skin has in the world today. Would a Peruvian more likely buy that sweater now that they've seen it on a white person? Why would they advertise like that? Because they know it works. White supremacy at it’s finest. This idea of white thinking is a psychological epidemic. It’s complicated and often not recognized by those who practice it. I suffer from it, many do but how can we change power imbalances?
The people that have power or we think have power will never make positive change and those that can and want to make change often aren’t given power to do so.
This is why I believe in Fair Trade.