-As the name implies, the cooperative is for small banana producers. That’s why I joined four years ago. They accepted farmers like me with only five-seven boxes per week. Now I produce 25 boxes per week and I’m planting more all the time, says Rosa Andrade in La Libertad.
She’s packing the week’s banana harvest. A stream of water passes the packing station in a narrow channel.
-Gracias a dios, I have good irrigation, so I’m not suffering from the drought right now. I didn’t have an irrigation system before, but through Asoguabo I got to borrow money to invest in one. Now I’ve repaid the loan.
She used to grow mostly cacao.
-Now I’m going with the banana. But I’m not quitting cacao all together, because it’s good to grow the bushes next to the banana plants. The cacao bushes protect the banana plants and their leaves are a natural fertilizer.
The stable price of fairtrade bananas is important to her.
-Outside Fair Trade it can vary between one and 12 dollars a box. I always say the high price lasts a couple of weeks, but we always get the same price.
She lifts up her youngest son Derlito who is keeping her company during the packing of the fruits.
-I can’t leave him, so I take him with me. He wants to be with his mom.
Her two older children go to high school and university. Behind the banana washing basin she’s building a toilet, as are most of the other farmers in the area. On June 1st, all of Asoguabo’s farmers are required to have a toilet at the packing station.
-It’s a Globalgap quality criterion. But it’s also a necessity, especially for us women.
Rosa Andrade likes the communication within the cooperative.
-They inform us and we tell them what’s happening with us. We have good meetings and exchange of ideas.