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Bananas are one of the most common food in our today’s world, they have a lot of nutritional values like vitamin C and A, also calcium. Banana is one very essential food because of its nutritional value, that causes workers and organizations to put in a lot of work into harvesting and transporting it. Most of the time, we give little concerns to the farmers who are not given fair treatment for their services. The question is now, are we inconsiderate consumers for ignoring the fact that laborers are not paid accordingly or that’s not our responsibility. We can be fair consumers by ensuring that something is done about the problem? In this essay, I would discuss more about the social and environmental issues regarding the geographic flows of bananas.
Bananas are grown and harvested in tropical regions. According to community.plu.edu, “Bananas were originally found in South East Asia, mainly in India”(2007), they are also predominant in Latin American countries like Chile. Bananas moved from South East Asia to the West, aided by Arab rulers, found its way to Africa and the Caribbean’s, its final-destination. In the Caribbean’s, bananas are harvested for 9 months. According to banana link, Banana growing is, in general, labor intensive” (BANANA LINK). It involves clearing cutting of jungle areas, they are then harvested by cutting the bananas in bunches, then they are packaged and exported to countries like Canada and the United States. As the bananas are transported to other countries, they are kept in refrigerating ships and factors like temperature and humidity are regulated to make sure the bananas are in perfect condition. During this transportation process, some issues surrounding the ONE Banana industry may arise. Some of the issues are due to unfavorable weather conditions, mismanagement or careless packaging. Some of these issues may lead to poverty, hunger for the laborer’s because they won’t be paid in full or even deforestation. “numerous issues combine, contributing to further deforestation, environmental degradation, poverty, hunger” ( Anup Shah, 2001).
The production of Bananas has a lot of economic benefits for the source countries because of its high demand in other parts of the world. “Bananas are also number four on the list of staple crops in the world and one of the biggest profit makers in supermarkets, making them critical for economic and global food security” (Shah, 2001). “Bananas have become such a common, inexpensive grocery item that we often forget where they come from and how they got here” (shah, 2001). Due to our ignorance and lack of concern the laborers of this crop, especially in third world nations continue to be treated as outcast/unfairly even though they are the ones who do most of the work needed to ensure the growth of bananas.
Barely up to 30% consumers know of how the laborers responsible to produce bananas exposed to severe conditions such as violation of human rights and child labor. “Banana workers in Ecuador are the victims of serious human rights abuses, Human Rights and child labor” (Human Rights Watch 2016). Little growing children of about ages 5 to 9 are forced to work under dangerous and hazardous conditions and whenever their parents complain about it to their bosses, they would be shunned or their pay would be cut short. Some environmental issues relating to the production, import and export of bananas are: deforestation, soil erosion, destructing of habitat of wild animals and loss of soil nutrients. During harvesting periods, the soils are likely to get affected, depending on the method of banana harvesting used (cutting down of the whole tree). Also, the means of transportation used to transport the bananas contributes to pollution. The trucks and planes used to transport it from one place to another releases smog which contaminates the air.
The production of mangoes has a similar process to that of banana. They are both grown and harvested in South East Asia and some countries in Africa like Nigeria. These two commodities are fruits with similar nutritional values, so they can be used for the same purposes, making of fruit juice. Another similarity they is that the farmers that plant these crops aren’t treated with consideration. They are exposed to a lot of unfavorable working conditions yet their pay doesn’t match up to their services. Their human rights are violated because they have little or no say/liberty. Their growing children are also subjected to child labor, so they can get more money to take care of their family. The difference in the production of these two products is that in terms fair trade of bananas, the huge profit that is made from the banana proceeds are usually shared among the large farming organizations, while the smaller farmers get little to nothing from the proceeds. In the case of fair trade of mangoes, the profit made from the proceeds are shared equally amongst all the farmers involved.
Based on my analyses, there is enough to evidence to show that most laborers are not treated fairly, especially those in third world nations. We as consumers should stand solely for free trade and fair treatment, we can do this researching more on the products we consume. If we do this the government would be left with no option but to ensure that there is no bias among laborers.