They're not called bunches, they’re called hands. Bunches are the huge clusters that grow on the tree. Well, actually, they are not trees either but a herbaceous plant. So then, are bananas a fruit or a herb?!? Who knew bananas were so misunderstood!
Whatever the technical term, they are the UK's favourite with over 13 million eaten Every DAY (that’s 5billion a year!). According to the Fairtrade organisation, bananas are the fourth most important food crop in global agriculture after rice, wheat and maize.
So who farms our beloved banana? Well, his name's Foncho and he’s from Colombia (see Fairtrade.org), where the cost of producing our bananas has risen by 85% in the last decade. This rise has happened at the same time as a major price war by supermarkets in the UK resulting in the cost of a loose banana decreasing from 18p to 11p. A little strange when you consider that a UK sourced apple costs around 20p.
We now pay so little for our bananas that some farmers are being forced to give up producing them. Others receive less than the costs of production and are ‘trapped in a cycle of poverty’ (Fairtrade.org, 23.2.2014).
Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation asks, ‘How can we in the UK love something so much and value it so little?’ (Fairtrade.org)
It’s week two of Fairtrade Fortnight, a time of year when events take place across the UK to highlight the difference Fairtrade makes to farmers and workers in developing countries.
According to a recent Independent article, 'there are more than 4,500 Fairtrade products – everything from pineapples and peanuts to gold, silver and platinum. There are 1,149 Fairtrade producer organisations in 70 countries' (The Independent, Sunday 23 February 2014). So why, when three leading supermarkets have committed to selling nothing but Fairtrade bananas, are there others where you can't find a loose Fairtrade banana no matter how hard you look??
In the spirit of Fairtrade fortnight and in support of Foncho and all the banana farmers like him, if you can do one thing in your weekly shop this week it is this – please ensure you choose bananas that are Fairtrade bananas, even if it means you have to go somewhere other than your normal establishment to buy them and show how much we value our beloved banana.