Trade has the potential to lift millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty – but only if it is fair

by Artur Francisco, Oxfam Campaigns Coordinator

We recently received a lot of great comments and questions when we posted on Facebook about Radio New Zealand’s shocking new story about banana workers’ rights in the Philippines. 

This story draws on research Oxfam released in 2013, which documented that the treatment of workers on Dole’s Philippine banana plantations is anything but ethical. We followed this research with a public campaign demanding that food company Dole removed their ‘Ethical Choice’ label from their bananas and lift their game on human rights.

Over 25 million people in the developing world depend on banana, coffee and cocoa farming to make a living. But, due to price volatility, they are sometimes unable to cover even their basic production costs. Plantation workers often face low wages, long hours, the abuse of basic rights and exposure to agrochemicals that have a devastating health impact.

Just a tiny percentage of what we pay for many commodities, like bananas, actually goes back to these workers. Multinational companies capture the lion’s share of profits and use their market power to push down the prices paid to farmers.

As ethical consumers, what we choose to buy can have an impact on people’s lives. Try to always make sure that you are buying fair trade  Bananas, coffee and chocolate are a good start. If you find the time, talk to your local retailer and let them know you want to see more fair trade products on sale. Also, support the Trade Aid store in your local area.