Banana worker, Dominican Republic

Photo credit: ©Fairtrade Foundation/Julia Powell

This worker on the Juliana-Jaramillo Banana Producers' Co-operative in the Dominican Republic benefits from the membership of a Fairtrade organisation. This guarantees farmers a minimum wage throughout the year.

Formally founded in 2000 (and operating more loosely since 1996), Juliana-Jaramilla is a banana producing co-operative whose members also employ hired labour. It is located in the northern region of the Dominican Republic. The name derives from the two villages at the centre of the co-operative.

The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the poorest country in Latin America. Juliana-Jaramillo is near the Haitian border and the area has similar poverty levels to Haiti. In 1999 it was estimated that 25 per cent of the population were still living below the poverty line. Many of Juliana-Jaramillo’s hired workers are Haitian migrant workers.

The co-operative joined the Fairtrade producers’ register in 1998. Production was halted for almost a year because of the destruction caused by Hurricane George and resumed at the end of 1999.

As a result of Fairtrade sales, the farmers have far more security; they are paid weekly and are guaranteed a minimum price throughout the year; by contrast other local farmers are paid monthly and the price received fluctuates wildly. Fairtrade is the only viable export route for small producers.

International trade in foodstuffs is increasing much faster than food production. It took off especially in the last quarter of the 20th century as a result of trade liberalisation under the GATT, the WTO and World Bank/IMF structural adjustment programmes. More land in developing countries now grows food for the export market. This has implications for food for local people. The prices of many agricultural commodities are at or near all-time lows. Under fair trade arrangements, producers in developing countries are guaranteed a price for their produce that gives them a decent return.

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