– I have three girls, and the oldest one studies at the university of Guayaquil! Thanks to Fair Trade I can make sure they get a good education, says Javier Polo.
He grows organic banana on 12 hectares in southernmost El Oro. He used to sell bananas to big companies like Reybanpac and Noboa. He joined Asoguabo and Fair Trade five years ago, for the stability the fixed price ensures.
– I’m a family man. I have three kids and my wife doesn’t work. Now I can invest in my home and the future of my children. Without Asoguabo it would be risky, and I don’t want to put my family at risk.
Another advantage is everything the association can pay for with the Fairtrade premium. For instance, the children get a backpack and a voucher to buy school supplies.
– And all my eight employees get social security. Sure there are problems, but they’re small compared to the well-being that Fair Trade gives us.
The strength of Fair Trade is that it gives the small producers access to the banana world market when they join in cooperatives.
– We’re united. Alone, it doesn’t work. But the big companies are also needed because they create jobs. We can’t hire that many people.
Polo produces 200-400 boxes of banana a week.
– I get by on it, and I can afford to save some for the low season, but I can’t afford any big investments.
Luckily, Ecuador’s southernmost parts are good banana country. Javier Polo bends down and grabs a handful of dirt.
– The soil is clean and fresh. The river floods and destroys the production for a while, but in the long run it’s a good thing, because the river brings sandy soil with good drainage, rich in nutrients.
As I thank Javier Polo for his time, he shakes my hand and says:
– No, thank you! The world needs to know what a good thing Fair Trade is.