Waitrose is running a pilot Fairtrade project on two plantations in the Dominican Republic, aimed at boosting support for farmers and workers.
The supermarket, which is a major UK outlet for Fairtrade bananas, explained that the pilot is focused on raising workers’ incomes, improving productivity and efficiency, creating a better working environment, and introducing better planning and training.
Amy Morris, Waitrose’s sustainability coordinator, said: "Back in 2007 we committed to sourcing 100 per cent of our bananas as Fairtrade. Since then we've seen the difference Fairtrade makes to the lives of farmers and workers within our banana supply chain and we continue to work closely with the Fairtrade Foundation to do what we can to support.”
To bring about positive change for the workers and improve working practices on the plantations, the agreed changes will be introduced and monitored. These include better supervision and knowledge sharing, especially at harvest times, pest control and soil improvements, and management training.
“We are in the process of reviewing findings from phase 1 and understanding producer needs following Covid, before defining phase 2,” Morris added.
Banana Lovers Day
The announcement came as the Fairtade Foundation celebrated Banana Lovers Day by highlighting the popularity of the fruit among UK shoppers.
The organisation, which works to raise incomes and living standards for producers in developing countries, pointed out that nearly a quarter of bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade certified. It added that over the past 20 years, as a nation UK consumers have eaten enough Fairtrade bananas to stretch around the earth 100 times.
Fairtrade provides a guaranteed minimum payment for farmers and workers, and an additional Premium payment. The Fairtrade Foundation states that since 2000, this has generated £104m in Premium payments for farmers and workers, who use that money to provide healthcare, education, and other essentials for their communities.
UK consumers have helped to drive an improvement in the quality of life of banana farmers, according to the organisation. Farmer Alfonso Contreras said: “Working with Fairtrade has changed the standard of living for pretty much everybody. I am very grateful to the people that buy Fairtrade, and that they continue blessing us with their support.”