Angel Paguay has four children and all work with him on his 2,88 hectare farm. He produces around 30 boxes a week, but wants to grow, and has planted more. He wants to buy land to be able to plant even more.
-But the cooperative’s rule that the farmers have to produce 48 boxes a week next year is wrong. The small producers are important, and ten boxes a week is enough to put food on the table.
Outside Fair Trade you can’t live on ten boxes a week, because the prices are too low. At the worst, the prices go down to one dollar a box.
-Then you have to work somewhere else too. I did that before joining Asoguabo. I worked on a huge plantation and made 60 dollars a week.
After being free of chemicals for three years, Angel’s farm was certified as organic in 2004.
-I wanted to start growing organically because the price of organic bananas is higher.
Thanks to joining Fair Trade, Angel could start farming organically, because the cooperative pays for the certification. And without Fair Trade’s relatively high and stable prices, he wouldn’t have time to farm organically.
-Farming organically is more work. I have to be on the farm all the time taking care of the plants. I wouldn’t have time to work on a plantation to earn extra money. The market is stable in Fair Trade and I sell everything I produce to Asoguabo, for the same price all year.
Angel’s son Segundo and his wife Isabel still work on the big plantation for the extra income.
-50-60 boxes per week would be enough for us to be able to stay full time here on the farm. We need 1,5 hectares more land, says Segundo.
His uncle Ramon Belizano Andrade comes walking from the neighbouring farm.
-We’re four siblings Andrade who have farms next to each other, he says.
-I farm three hectares, about 35-40 boxes a week. When I joined Asoguabo, the same time as my siblings, I only produced seven boxes a week. I mostly grew cacao. But I had the land, so I planted bananas. I’ve worked for years in the banana industry, for the company Reybanpac.
He joined Fair Trade because of the loans for building irrigation, and most of all because of the stable price.
-It makes life easier.