World Banana Forum, Afruibana Discuss Banana Value Chain Issues

Bananas being prepared for export to Europe

Paris, France//- The World Banana Forum (WBF) in collaboration with Afruibana, the first African Regional Commission brought together key players in the African banana industry to lay the foundation for a fruitful dialogue across the value chain on the issues of shared responsibility and duty of care.

During this webinar meeting, Joseph Owona Kono, the president of the association, was accompanied by representatives of the three producing countries, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

He was also shared his vision of the market and spoke on efforts and initiatives that have been put in place by producers in recent years on social, societal, and environmental.

The webinar included constructive discussions with Ms. Marianne Naudin, CSR Purchasing Project Manager at Lidl France, Ms. Kate Nkatha Ochieng, Commercial Director at Fairtrade Africa, Mr. Luc De Lapeyre De Bellaire, Researcher at CIRAD, Mr. Alistair Smith, International Coordinator of Banana Link and Mr. Oscar Ngome Eboule, Representative of the National Federation of Banana Sector Workers’ Unions of Cameroon.

Afruibana began by recalling the way in which the African banana industry participates in improving the living conditions of workers, their families and local communities.

Its members are developing infrastructures for access to basic services (water, education, health, housing, etc.) and are also contributing to the development of the local economic fabric by stimulating agri-entrepreneurship.

Similarly, initiatives to rebalance the gender balance within management structures are currently underway.

As for the environmental aspect, the members of Afruibana initiated their agroecological transition more than ten years ago. They now wish to take this approach to a larger scale. In partnership with CIRAD, Afruibana is developing an agroecological banana project in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Ghana with the triple ambition of improving the environmental performance of the plantations, reducing production costs and increasing yields.

The association then mentioned the European directive on the duty of vigilance of companies in terms of sustainability (harmonizing the initiatives already taken by the various member states) and the work that has already been started to anticipate its effects: mapping of supply chains of operators, drafting of vigilance plans, codes of conduct, internal mechanisms of remediation and verification procedures and establishment of committees for dialogue and consultation with neighboring communities. This work will be expanded and accelerated in the future.

Joseph Owona Kono, President of Afruibana, finally challenged participants on the issue of “shared responsibility” which is an approach where risks and value would be shared equitably along the supply chain, allowing producers to share costs with buyers and be rewarded for their efforts towards more sustainable agricultural practices.

It is “crucial to ensure that producers obtain the resources they need not only for their daily operations, but above all in view of the colossal investments that need to be made throughout this decade in order to succeed together in the multiple challenges of the agro-ecological transition, the fight against climate change and the essential rebalancing aimed at putting the economy back at the service of mankind, rather than the other way around.

This shows how closely shared responsibility is linked to the notions of “fair price” and “living wage” and how their respective successes will depend on an open dialogue with all stakeholders.

That is why, in conclusion, Afruibana welcomed the participation of the trade union representatives of the three producing countries in the coordination of the African Regional Commission.

This approach is part of a voluntary commitment both from the production companies and union representatives who act daily to promote a social dialogue frank, demanding and peaceful.

African Eye Report