Farmers want to stay in Fair Trade

Gustavo Novillo from Asoguabo spoke at the meeting.

Gustavo Novillo from Asoguabo spoke at the meeting.

-It’s not a crime to make ten boxes of bananas! It’s not like we’re using prohibited chemicals!

-People here make three boxes, and that’s enough for them to afford food.

-With the income from ten boxes, we have enough to survive.

-Fair trade is supposed to help and support theones who need it the most!

The small farmers in Santa Isabel de Florida are upset. If they can’t produce 48 boxes a week next year, they’ll be excluded from the cooperative.

At their meeting last week, Asoguabo’s member association Santa Isabel de Florida discussed the demands of the cooperative. Gustavo Novillo from Asoguabo was going to talk about how the health care is going to be arranged for the member association Santa Isabel de Florida, but the discussion came to focus on the production demands.

-Asoguabo’s board is divided. Some members want to adapt to the demands of the market, others think about the small producers.

He suggested that the association in Santa Isabel de Florida invite the board to meet in the village, and that they express their opinions there. One of the farmers in Santa Isabel is Leonardo Bravo, who himself is a member of Asoguabo’s board.

-We aren’t the only association that farms on agroforest farms which aren’t as productive. Nine of the 14 member associations are agroforestal. I suggest that we invite the other ones to a meeting.

Blanca Sanchez.

Blanca Sanchez.

Blanca Sanchez is upset. She leans forward and fixes her eyes on me.

-It’s we, the small farmers, who need fair trade. Thanks to that, we’ve avoided people emigrating to the United States and dying on the way. We can live off of our work.

Many of them also grow cacao, but cacao only yields harvest part of the year. The rest of the time, the farmers would have to leave their farms to find work. But with the banana, they can stay in their communities.

Victor Zamanilo pushes his cap back a little with a stern look on his face.

-It’s thanks to the small farmers that there’s a market for fairtrade products. We need fair trade because we are small and grow naturally in agroforestal farms, where the banana plants are mixed with other plants and trees. Not on huge fields with nothing but bananas. Our farms produce 30 boxes per hectare compared to 300 boxes in a monoculture on the plains. And those farms are automatic.

Zamanilo and Sanchez say it’s they who give fair trade the image that sells bananas.

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