– The price Fairtrade pays for the bananas isn’t fair, says Julio Rodriquez.
He grows bananas on 8,5 hectares in Arenillas, close to the border between Ecuador and Peru. He’s one of many farmers who thinks Fairtrade pays too little for the bananas.
– A fair price would be 7-8 dollars for a box of bananas in stead of 5,05, he says.
– With five dollars it’s not profitable. We can’t make investments to improve our production. We want to be able to develop and increase the production.
Years ago, the price could be called fair, but it hasn’t changed in many years, whereas the cost of production has gone up. Right now the times are especially unpleasant for the Fairtrade farmers, the market price for bananas being 12 dollars per box.
– But we’re staying in the cooperative, seeing the carnival pass by, says Rodriguez.
Because there’s something more important than the price: the stability. The same price all year, even if the market price drops below the Fairtrade price. And an important advantage of belonging to a cooperative is that everyone works together, and makes decisions together.
– Within our group of farmers, for example, we share the costs for the truck that takes the banana boxes to the port. And without the co-op we would have to export our bananas through intermediaries. It would be hard for the small producers to reach the market.
Fair Trade gives the small farmers a fair chance to compete with the big companies.
The Fairtrade price
The importers certified by the umbrella organization Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) have to pay the minimum price to the farmers.
Asoguabo’s importer is Agrofair, and Asoguabo is it’s biggest owner.
The Fairtrade price is different in different countries. FLO has determined the price, that’s supposed to cover the cost of production, processing, packing and transportation to the harbour. The price was determined in the beginning of the 2000’s and is still the same.
In Ecuador, the Fairtrade price for exporting associations such as Asoguabo is 7,75 dollars per box of conventional banana and 9,50 dollars per box of organic banana.
In this price, the fairtrade premium of one dollar is included. It is used by the cooperative for social and environmental projects.
The remaining 6,75 and 8,50 dollars also have to cover the expenses of packing the bananas and transporting them to the ship.
The cooperative decides how much the producers get.
In Asoguabo, the producer gets 5,05 dollars per box of conventional banana and 7,50 dollars per box of organic banana.