Bananas are the world’s most exported fresh fruit (US$10bn/year). They are an essential source of income for thousands of rural households in developing countries. 1 in every 3 bananas consumed in the world comes from Ecuador. Recognised as the most important agricultural activity in the country, with around 190.000 hectares under cultivation, of which more than 19.000 hectares are organic, banana production generates jobs to more than 2.5 million people. However, agrochemical-intensive production along with declining producer prices has given rise to many environmental and social challenges.
Banana is the second most chemically intensive crop after cotton. Banana crops are particularly susceptible to infestations as most are grown in the tropics, favouring conditions for pests. Pesticides are used to control different banana pests, including Black Sigatoka, which in banana plantations can significantly decrease yields by upto 50%. Contamination caused by the intensive use of agrochemicals in monoculture production remains a challenge.
Up to 200 L of very toxic pesticide ingredients are sprayed per hectare/year up to 45 times/year, creating a harmful impact on people, and the environment (water and soil contamination, reduction of biodiversity, poisoning of pollinators and wildlife). The debate on pesticides is dominated by consumer concerns about pesticide residues in food. Less attention is given to the impacts on farmers, their families and people who live in villages around the traditional banana plantation, who are generally much more exposed to pesticides than the population at large.
Agrochemicals are applied by hand and aerially sprayed. It is estimated that 85% of chemicals sprayed by plane fail to land on the crop, instead saturating the whole area, including workers, their homes and food. For plantation workers and local people, the health impacts of extensive agrochemical use are numerous, ranging from depression and respiratory problems to cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
Pressure from multinational companies and consumers to keep prices low affects hundreds of thousands of workers in the banana industry. They often fail to earn enough to feed their families properly. The health and safety of workers is compromised by routine exposure to toxic agrochemicals and a lack of appropriate safety equipment. Field work is very physically demanding, especially in tropical conditions. In the packaging houses, repetitive actions cause strains and injuries. Many of them work for 12 hours per day, without a payslip and paid holiday.
Only 65% are covered by half of which has only 50% insurance coverage. Despite Ecuador government has fixed a minimum salary of less than 400 euros, this is not enough for most of the workers. In 2016 the cost of a family shopping amounted to about 598 euros. Women usually work in the packing stations and normally receive a lower salary. In many cases the women get fired after getting pregnant.
Let's stop social and environmental abuse in banana farming.
We want to create a positive social and environmental impact with Banabar. Our mission is to promote healthy and pleasurable snacking experiences with Banabar and help fight social and environmental exploitation involved in banana farming.
We made sure to use only organic ingredients. We source our dried organic banana from Ecuador, where supporting the growth of the organic banana plantations is our way to fight against the industry norm of using highly poisonous and carcinogenic pesticides such as Paraquat and Mancozeb.
Profits in the organic production are usually higher due to higher prices of the outputs and no cost for chemicals, considering also the lower carbon emissions and health costs. We use only rejected bananas which do not meet the quality standard for export. We commit 1% of our total revenue to support the farmers in Ecuador we work with.
In 10 years time we are aiming to sell more than 20 million products/ year based on dried banana. That means that about 400 tons of dried banana will be used, which is equal to 1400 tons of fresh bananas produced on 56 hectares. We will save up to 11 tons of toxic active pesticide ingredients and we will commit 200.000 euros per year to the banana farmers to increase income of farmers, payslips of workers, and improve social security.
We will make millions of customers happy with our healthy and tasty products, create awareness about the social and environmental challenges of banana farming, and convince people to buy more organic and fair trade fresh bananas, making even more impact.
Do Good While Snacking