Smallholders Commission

Bananas play a major role in global food security and household incomes, particularly in low-income, food-deficit countries and regions where banana production can be one of few viable, legitimate options for employment. The banana industry, including in leading export countries like Ecuador, consists of countless smallholders that depend on banana production for their livelihoods. For instance, in Ecuador, approximately 70% of the total banana producers are small producers with less than 30 hectares.

Smallholders face numerous and varied challenges within the industry, including complex biotic and abiotic stresses that affect production and yields; accessibility to international markets; sharp increases in costs; a focus on due diligence and international standards; and others. In light of these challenges and following discussions with interested stakeholders and a comprehensive consultation process with small producers (in Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic) and organisations working closely with small producers, a Smallholders Commission was established under the framework of the World Banana Forum. The Commission, which was approved by the Steering Committee of the WBF in November 2022, aims to create a space for smallholders to convene, discuss, and effectively develop action plans for the benefit of all smallholders in the industry.

Objective:

The objective of the Commission is to provide a platform for smallholders to share information and experiences regarding the challenges they face in the banana industry and develop concrete, multi-faceted approaches that actively and efficiently provide real, short-term and long-term solutions for smallholders. The active participation and collaboration of smallholders in the Commission is a vital element to ensure an accurate portrayal of the reality of the situation and the development of evidence-based solutions.

The Commission is open to all members of the WBF, and will be coordinated by various constituencies, with a focus on small producers. It will meet four to six times per year, and will hold one to two dedicated webinars annually to present priority topics and the activities carried out by the Commission.

Priority Topics of the Commission in the Three WBF Working Groups:

The priority topics span the thematic areas of all three Working Groups of the WBF on environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

WG01:

  • Fusarium Wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) and biosecurity measures
  • Other pests and diseases and use of pesticides
  • Climate change impacts (e.g. increased rainfall, draughts, floodings, hurricanes etc)
  • Adaptation to climate change and strategies to reduce carbon and water footprints
  • Availability of fertilizers and self-management of plantations
  • Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) and substitutes for molecules present in pesticides used in the banana industry
  • Organic production
  • Diversification of crops and biodiversity, and the added value they bring to smallholders
  • Irrigation and availability of water
  • Use of bio-pesticides

WG02:

  • Costs of sustainable production
  • Static price of the banana box
  • Costs and requirements of certifications, especially for organic production
  • Living wages and living incomes
  • Accessibility to international markets
  • Logistical problems, such as the availability and costs of transport
  • Shared responsibility
  • Access to land and finances
  • Establishment of monitoring and compliance systems
  • Living wage methodologies
  • Cooperation in the banana industry and capacities of farmers

WG03:

  • Occupational health and safety (OHS) / Banana Occupational Health and Safety Initiative (BOHESI)
  • Violence and harassment in the workplace
  • Gender equity (e.g., women’s empowerment and female leadership)
  • Child labour prevention and promotion of decent youth employment
  • Corporate Social Sustainability Due Diligence
  • Decent rural work
  • Collective bargaining
  • Administrative training for farmers and institutions on decent work
  • Formalization of land

If you are interested in joining the Smallholders Commission, please contact Victor Prada at [email protected] and/or WBF Secretariat at [email protected].