10 Jun 2021

€1 million partnership to support small-scale organic Fairtrade banana producers

Fairtrade has launched a €1 million project, including €500,000 from the French Development Agency and €300,000 from Carrefour, to support ecological practices and the promotion of women in the organic Fairtrade banana sector. Ten thousand people from banana farming communities in Peru and the Dominican Republic stand to benefit. The project is a joint effort between the national Fairtrade organization Max Havelaar France, and the regional network of Fairtrade producers in Latin America (CLAC).

850 Dom Rep banana producer 29751
Lina, a small-scale banana farmer in the Dominican Republic
(c) Fairtrade / José García

A risky sector: climate change, soil depletion, chemicals

Banana farmers in Latin America face many challenges. Water is becoming scarcer, and extreme weather events are increasing. Monoculture and the intensive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the past have led to a reduction in soil fertility and biodiversity, making banana plants much more vulnerable to pests – such as the current outbreak of the highly contagious TR4 banana disease in Peru.

The banana sector needs to take action to adapt to climate change, to improve natural resource management and soil fertility and to diversify its agriculture. But faced with excessively low market prices, plus the addition challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many banana cooperatives lack both the means to invest in these measures, and the knowledge to position themselves on the market.

Improve producer’s resilience, promote leadership roles for women and generational change

The unique project, financed by the French Development Agency (AFD) and backed by €300,000 from Carrefour will support 11 Fairtrade banana producer cooperatives in the Dominican Republic and Peru (reaching 10,000 beneficiaries - 1059 farmers, plus their families and communities) for three years.

“This project will improve banana production, making it more sustainable, and it will also improve the competitiveness of the participating organizations to generate better income for more than a thousand producers in the Dominican Republic and Peru. The project comes at a time of deep crisis and generates new hope for family farming and the mitigation of such threatening diseases as Fusarium TR4,” said Marike de Peña, President of CLAC's banana network.

The core aims are to improve incomes sustainably, promote leadership amongst women and youth, and increase farmers’ resilience to climate change. Concrete actions include building organic fertilizer micro-factories and setting up diversification field schools. At the same time, women and young people will be trained through innovative teaching modules from Fairtrade’s Women's School of Leadership. Module topics will include human rights, gender and masculinity, self-esteem, leadership, negotiation and political participation.

“Within our organization we have approximately 70 women and 30 or 40 young people who are producers,” explains Miguel Borrero, manager of APBOSMAM cooperative in Peru which will participate in the project. “The idea is to train this group of women and give them the necessary tools so that in future they can also take on leadership positions and be part of the generational change that is needed in our organizations…We are very happy because this project will allow us to somewhat improve the income of our producers through best practices in the field, which will ultimately lead to increases in productivity.”

The project will also set up exchanges between producers and cooperatives from both countries, to enable them to learn from each other and to exchange on best practices.

"I am delighted that AFD Group is contributing, alongside Fairtrade/Max Havelaar and Carrefour, to the very concrete implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement by ensuring that organic and Fairtrade banana supply chains meet gender equality and climate change adaptation criteria. This unprecedented partnership, which testifies to the commitment of French actors to sustainable development in both its environmental and social dimensions, will accelerate our common quest for impact,” said Rémy Rioux, Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD).

"Through our commitment to organic and Fairtrade certified bananas, Carrefour is also committed to supporting producers on the ground…Today, one in three bananas purchased from us is Fairtrade certified. We want to take a new step by supporting a project that acts further up the supply chain to offer a sustainable future to producers who are facing major challenges, in particular the effects of climate change,” commented François Vincent, Director of Food Merchandise, Carrefour France.