The Windward Islands Farmers Association was set up in 1982 as an informal association of farmer groups to support small-scale farmers efforts to remain sustainable. It was later established as a formal umbrella organization representing those farmer associations - all four Windward Islands in 1987.
It is a people-centered non governmental organization that represents, protects, and promotes the interest of thousands of farmers in these islands and Martinique in a continued struggle to improve the farm, family, community, and national conditions. In the current new global economic order, WINFA is involved in the challenge of sustaining the income and livelihood of banana farmers and the banana industry in general, resulting from the WTO (World Trade Organization) ruling and other trade regimes that threaten the socio-economical stability of the region.
To build a financially independent democratic organization that champions the cause of farmers and rural communities in the Caribbean, through the provision of programs which address issues such as food security, gender equity, sustainable development, and sector linkages.
The Major Objectives of WINFA Include:
WINFA is actively campaigning to promote the sale of Fair Trade bananas from the Windward Islands, which are being sold in supermarkets in England and some European countries. Banana is the major crop amongst WINFA farmers.
Although WINFA is representing all small-farmers producing food and cash crops, bananas are considered especially important and require a large part of the resources. A ‘banana desk’ was established in 1992 to deal specifically with the issues of banana farming, and a Fair Trade desk was established in 1999.
WINFA took over a strong advocacy role in defence of banana farmers and on issues such as EU Banana Regime, ACP/EU relations, the World Trade Organization’s negociation rounds and other major trade issues.
Over the past years, WINFA has been working to develop a small-farmers diversification programme, and to prepare and establish the basis for the introduction to a de-subsidized banana market in Europe.
The promotion of diversification includes linkages to tourism and agro-processing. WINFA also designed a series of training workshops in sustainable agriculture, as well as farmer exchange programmes with farmers organizations in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Particular attention is shown to the rights and needs of female farmers, many of whom are single-parents. Programmes of exchanges for women are carried out, and women are encouraged to participate actively in assemblies and exchanges.