-It was a tough decision, but what can I do? You can’t live on ideals, says Wilson Navarrete when I ask him why he left the cooperative in february. He is one of the founders. He was secretary for 10 years and represented Asoguabo in the board of the import company Agrofair, travelled around the world talking about fair trade. He thinks the fairtrade floor price is too low. It’s 7,75 dollars a box for conventional bananas and 9,50 for organic. One dollar goes to the cooperative’s social and environmental projects. This is the lowest possible price the importer can pay the cooperative under fairtrade rules. The co-op decides how much the farmers get. Right now it’s 5,05 dollars and 7,50 dollars a box respectively.
-But the floor price hasn’t been raised in ten years, even though the cost of production has doubled. Cardboard is more expensive, the plastic bags the bananas grow in are more expensive, the workers’ salaries are higher. But the floor price that’s supposed to cover the cost of production has remained the same.
Now Navarrete sells to other buyers, anyone pays better right now. He gets between 5,50 and 11 dollars per box every week.
And if the market price goes below the fairtrade price?
-The average over the whole year will probably be better anyway.
He also thinks that the co-op is losing the small farmer spirit and ideals of the early years.
-We small farmers aren’t interesting to them anymore. They want big farmers.
He’s talking about the decision that all farmers must be able to produce at least 48 boxes of banana per week.
Fairtrade labelling organisations international, FLO, sets the floor prices for fairtrade products. Tuulia Syvänen from Finland is a board member.
Why hasn’t the floor price been raised in such a long time?
-The banana floor price has been checked during this time, in Ecuador too. FLO is revising the floor prices for banana. The floor price is supposed to be a security net in case the market price falls below the cost of production. Not the price to trade with. The seller and buyer are supposed to negotiate a price which is always at least the floor price.