We’d been playing the Banana Split game with our Girls’ Brigade group girls. We’d split them into small groups to represent a different person along the banana supply chain – a farm worker, the farm owner, the shipper, the importer, and the supermarket.
‘I’ve just bought this banana from the supermarket for 30p,’ I told them, ‘Now how much of that 30p do you think you deserve? How much do you think each of these people should get?’ If each small group in our Girls’ Brigade group had gotten their way, I’d be paying almost £1 for my banana. Time for a reality check!
We started by giving the supermarket group 13p which would go towards paying their staff and running costs. The importer group got 7p, the shippers got 4p, and the banana farm owners received 5p. Do a quick bit of maths and you’ll see that all that’s left for the farm worker is 1p. Just one pence.
1p per banana for a 12-14-hour day of hard, physical labour, carrying heavy loads and being exposed to nasty pesticides. Does that seem fair to you? It certainly doesn’t to me.
You might have spotted the Fairtrade logo on packets in the supermarket or in your kitchen cupboards. But what does it actually mean when a product claims to be Fairtrade? It means that the money is distributed more fairly between everyone, ensuring that those at the bottom of the supply chain, usually the farm workers, get paid a living wage. This means they can afford somewhere to live, food to eat, and to support their children through school. They also get a say in how profits are invested and spent, empowering those voices that are often ignored. Fairtrade works with farmers all over the world – you can have a look at their website to see which countries have Fairtrade farms.
It’s a simple switch we can make when doing our shopping. Pick the Fairtrade bananas over the regular ones next time, knowing that the farmers who picked them are getting a fair deal for their work. Look out for Fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate too! It’s a small thing we can do that will make a big difference to the lives of others.
Photo by Elena Koycheva.