Bananas For Bananas

Today we visited the Dole plantation. This was really exciting for me as I eat at least a banana a day when I am at home and at Pitt. While on this tour I saw how much time goes into getting my daily banana. Similar to coffee, both fruits have many more steps in getting to me than I ever could have imagined. This gave me a newfound appreciation for my bananas. I am also now more thankful for my bananas than ever before after hearing about all the problems banana farmers face.

One of the big problems they talked about that affects bananas worldwide is the TR4 virus. This is a mutated fungus affecting banana plantations in South-East Asia, Pakistan, Jordan, Mozambique and Australia. It would be extremely troublesome if this virus spread to Central America, so plantations in central America are not allowed to give tours unless they follow extremely strict guidelines. These include checking if anyone has been to the affected countries, making sure visitors wash the bottom of their shoes before they walk in, stepping in iodine while walking in, not allowing backpacks in, and more. At first this seemed a little intense for a virus that is so far away, but I quickly realized it is needed in order to keep the bananas I love safe.

On this site visit we got to see what it would be like to be a banana plantation worker, and I decided I would much rather work on a banana plantation than a coffee plantation. At coffee plantations the work is extremely tedious as you pluck off each cherry, and you have to watch out for snakes and bugs while you are out on the plantations. At banana plantations the work is still tedious, but in a different way. Each banana plant (not tree, because they are an herb) needs to have multiple steps done to it, and none of these steps are as tedious as picking cherries off one by one. They were also playing music at the banana plantation, and you might even be able to get pulled around by the horse on the cable system! The environment seemed much more enjoyable to me. The pay also seems more reasonable as you get paid by the day, not the amount you pick. This makes your wage more reliable as getting paid by how much you pick may change depending on the crop and time of harvest.

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