Asoguabo has temporarily suspended small banana farmers who can’t produce 25 boxes of bananas per shipment. Next year the minimum will be raised to 48 boxes. It’s the supermarkets that demand greater volumes in order to make their work more efficient. They use every farmer’s personal code to check where the bananas come from. The more codes, the more work and the more costs for the supermarkets.
Now Asoguabo’s board has made a decision that will help the last of the small farmers reach the minimum. All farmers get more time, until may 2010 in stead of the end of this year. During that time they won’t be suspended. In stead they can join sharing a producer code, a suggestion from the farmers in Santa Isabel de Florida.
The farmers that share a code have to sign an agreement to formalise and legalise their relationship. In practice, two or three farmers share the same code, but in the name of one farmer. The others’ farms are considered ”lot 2” and ”lot 3” of the producer who owns the code, so the bananas can be traced all the way to the field. The farmer who owns the code is the one who gets paid, and who in turn pays his partners.
During the coming year, the farmers are supposed to increase their production with the help of Fair Trade. They will receive technical assistance, loans and support for specific projects, such as building an irrigation system in the member association Santa Isabel de Florida. If there are farmers who still haven’t reached 48 boxes after a year, it’s unclear what will happen.
-Asoguabo is an enterprise, and as an enterprise we have to walk hand in hand with the market and the globalisation. We have to fulfil the demands of the market, says Asoguabo’s president Jovanny Coronel.
-We can’t expect the supermarkets to change. We have to help the small farmers grow and comply with the demands of the market. Fair Trade can’t do anything about the supermarkets’ demands, and Fair Trade doesn’t mean that small producers should stagnate and remain small the rest of their lives.