St Vincent International Farm Profile

Bananas are the principal export crop of Dominica, St Lucia, and St Vincent and are the main source of income and employment for the rural population of these islands.  The main crops for Grenada were cocoa and nutmeg - both tree crops that were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  Banana crops recover much more quickly after a hurricane - within 9 months a new crop can be produced.

Windwards Bananas, is owned by the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company Limited (WIBDECO), who, in turn, are owned by the Governments and banana producers of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands supplied 9% of the 5 billion bananas that were consumed in the United Kingdom in 2004. The main aim of the WIBDECO is to produce nutritious bananas that are grown on small family farms that use minimal agrochemicals. The bananas are produced in socially and environmentally friendly conditions and are an important means of support for the rural communities and families within the islands.

As world wide purchasing of foods such as cocoa, coffee and bananas has become increasingly competitive, small farmers have been forced to accept lower prices for their crops, sometimes below the cost of production. The concept of fair trade is to offer these small farmers an alternative route to market that gives them a fair return for their labour.

The Fairtrade organisation, a charity backed by Oxfam, has succeeded in convincing major supermarkets in the UK that they should offer foods such as coffee, chocolate and bananas branded as Fairtrade products at a price which is more than their standard own brands. It is then up to the customers as to whether they are prepared to pay a premium to ensure that farmers from developing countries receive proper compensation for their efforts.

At the moment only 1 in 10 of supermarket customers in the UK buy Fairtrade bananas.


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