The Caribbean's Windward Island Banana Industry: A Heritage of Dependency

Marisa Wilson, Wendy-Ann Isaac, Michael Joseph, Wayne Ganpat, Richard Brathwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the era of Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat Song (day-o) has faded into the annals of history, the challenges facing the small banana farmer in the Windward Islands of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines still loom in an entrenched 'culture of dependency. Throughout the years, banana farming for export in the Windward Islands has been encumbered by contradictory political economies and value systems, products of an Afro-Caribbean slave heritage. On the one hand, small farmers and other members of Windward Island populations have valued protected markets from former colonisers as an entitlement, while on the other hand they are steeped in a historical dependence on powerful actors located far from the farm gate. This paper explores the cultural, historical, political economic and environmental effects of the Windward Island banana industry's responses to several threats from the outside, and focuses on farmers' need to retain their market for bananas and the strategies pursued. Is the end near for the Windward Islands banana industry in the face of shifting relations of dependency, or will the new form of engagement, the Fairtrade market, reset the historical balance? Is it really "daylight come and me wan go home" for farmers, or will the industry once more reinvent itself and soldier onwards?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-117
JournalJournal of Rural and Community Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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