Victor Carrion smiles a lot as we talk about Fair Trade and Asoguabo. But then his face takes on a serious expression.
– Asoguabo has changed my life.
Here in Arenillas, Asoguabo’s newest members can be found. Victor is one of the farmers who took the initiative three years ago, when things looked dark for the small farmers in the area.
– We were talking one day, and the idea was born. We went to the Asoguabo office and talked to the boss. Since then, we haven’t had any more problems!
Before joining Asoguabo, there were definitely problems. The farmers were selling to Alvaro Noboa, under the brand Bonita bananas. They had a contract to sell all their bananas, but sometimes Noboa would only buy half. What to do with the rest?
– We were desperate, so some of us formed a small group and started growing organic bananas. We sold them to the company Cesia.
But growing organic banana is expensive, and Cesia paid a low price. The farmers couldn’t afford to invest and take care of their plantations. The plants were hit by the virus sigatoka negra.
That’s when the farmers turned to Asoguabo, who helped them to get back on their feet.
– They lent us money and helped us take care of our plantations. Asoguabo’s engineers are talking with us all the time.
Since then, more and more producers in the Arenillas area have joined, and now they’re 26. Just like all the farmers I’ve talked to during my time in El Guabo, Victor, too, says that the stability is the most important thing for him. The farmers in Fair Trade get the same price all year.
– I don’t have to worry about whether the price of banana will go up or down tomorrow. Sure, we don’t become millionaires. But I can afford to pay two employees.