-I’m from Quito, a ”quiteño”, and now I’m here on the coast, a farmer in dirty clothes!
Edwin Melo laughs and shows the latex stains on his shirt. Latex is a substance in unripe bananas, which leaks out when the bananas are cut loose from the stems. The stains are the banana farmer’s trademark.
-This was my father-in-law’s farm. My wife and I took it over 11 years ago. We met in Quito, when we were studying economics. This is another world, another life.
At first, they sold the bananas to Noboa and Reybanpac.
-Those experiences where something completely different than Asoguabo. Here, we have tons of advantages. Health insurance, clinic, technical assistance. And we’re farming organically thanks to Asoguabo, that paid for the certification, taught us to use organic agricultural products and gave us education.
Four years ago, there weren’t many organic alternatives to the agrochemicals on the market. Now there are more choices for organic fertilizing and pest prevention.
-We couldn’t have done it without help. Every week, the engineers bring a chart with the products to use, when to use them and how much to use.
Two of his brothers-in-law also took over parts of their father’s farm, so now they each have six hectares and share the packing station. The warehouse building is 30 years old, but soon it’s going to be replaced by a new one with the money Asoguabo gives each farmer for investments to fulfil the Globalgap standards.
-We get 500 dollars each, and with 1500 dollars you can do a lot. It’s also easy to get a loan from Asoguabo or from the member association Solidarios. With Reybanpac, that was impossible. We didn’t have health insurance or clinics either. If one of my workers is injured now, I take him straight to the Asoguabo clinic in El Guabo. The workers also get a food basket every month and money to buy their children school supplies. We have loads of advantages!
One of them, of course, is the stable price.
-We can plan ahead and don’t have to be afraid to invest. For example, we’ve invested in irrigation channels that we dug with Asoguabo’s excavators that the members can rent cheaply.
What do you want to say to the people who buy fairtrade bananas?
-Buy more, because we get a fair price that helps us. The more you buy, the more people Fair Trade can help! It would be terrible if we would produce more and nobody would buy.