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Banana farmers to operate fully under the Fair Trade Label

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Friday February 18, 2005 – Windward Island Banana farmers are preparing to fully operate under the Fair Trade Label by the middle of this year. The move, which is seen as the best option for regional bananas will see some 250,000 boxes shipped to the UK at that time and thereafter.

Fair Trade, a new trading ideology, is said to be redefining international trade. Consumers are being encouraged to pay premium prices for fruit produced in small developing states like St. Lucia, under the Fair Trade Brand and are said to be buying into the idea. Although Windward Island bananas have been shipped under that label since 2000, what is new is the magnitude of the projected expansion for Fair Trade bananas from the region.

Communications Officer with the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company (WIBDECO), Bernard Frampton said, “Fair Trade labelling is a system through which trade facilitates sustainable development for disadvantaged producers and workers”. The core aims, he said, included a long-term, stable relationship; a stable and fair price that covered the real cost of production and included a premium for investing in business developments; as well as social improvements.

In order to be part of the Fair Trade Brand, farmers are expected to meet the criteria set up under the Fair Trade practice. According to Chairman of the Windward Islands Farmers Association, Mr. Renwick Rose, this includes among other things, the protection of the environment. “It ensures that we get rid of the waste in a safe manner. That in fact, we protect out rivers, streams and sea. And there are also social criteria, which are very important. As a fair Trade farmer you must belong to a group; you cannot just be an individual Fair Trade Farmer. It means that it makes it easier for them,” Mr. Rose explained.

Mr. Rose said that the criteria also facilitated ongoing education and the development of human resources among the farming community. The concept under the label is being managed by the Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International, which was founded in 1997. It has an association of some 17 members.

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