Earns more working on a plantation

Calixto Sanchez likes the work on his farm.

Calixto Sanchez likes the work on his farm.

Calixto Sanchez is thinking about leaving banana farming and going back to working on plantations, like he did before becoming a farmer.

-It’s not worthwhile growing organic bananas. On a banana plantation I earn 150 dollars a week. Farming bananas I earn 180 – and from that sum I have to deduct the production costs. And I don’t have an irrigation system, so in the spring I lost three weeks’ harvest because of the drought.

His son Fernando tags along when the farm gets visitors.

His son Fernando tags along when the farm gets visitors.

But he likes to work his farm. This day he’s walking from plant to plant, cutting down the bunches of bananas ready for shipment to Europe or the US. He doesn’t have a cableway on his farm. In stead, he hangs two bunches on a rod of bamboo that he lifts on his shoulders and carries to the packing plant. His sons Fernando (8) and Jefferson (7) run ahead along the muddy path to the water basins where their mother Cecilia is waiting. She washes the bananas and packs them into boxes.

-My father in law has a cacao farm. The good thing about bananas is that they yield harvest and income all year. And in Fair Trade, the price is the same all year, even if it is low, she says.

Calixto's wife Cecilia Sigua helps her husband on harvest days.

Calixto's wife Cecilia Sigua helps her husband on harvest days.

Week after week looks the same. Mondays are harvest days. On Tuesdays Calixto covers young banana bunches with protective plastic. On Wednesdays, he cuts damaged leaves off the plants. On Thursdays, he weeds the plants and on Friday it’s time for bagging again. On Saturdays he weeds, and on Sunday he takes the day off.

-I can never leave the farm unattended. If I don’t watch the plants, the disease Sigatoka Negra can strike.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Earns more working on a plantation

  1. Great story!! Really shows a rich snippet of life as a small producer. The challenges seem extensive. Is Calixto part of a co-operative? I may have missed something on your earlier posts but you mention ‘organic’ bananas, does his farm have any fair trade certification?

  2. Annika

    hi!
    as you may have noticed, my blog is like one long story and every entry is just a piece of the story.
    as the name of the blog implies, it is about fair trade in ecuador. calixto`s farm is fair trade certified. he belongs to the fairtrade cooperative Asoguabo in southern Ecuador. On the left side of the blog, you will find a link to the cooperative`s website if you want to know more!
    and if you have time, please browse through my earlier entries as well. i think you will find the answers to most of your questions, and more farmer stories that i hope you will find interesting!
    thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for the response Annika and thanks for explaining more about how your blog works…I will explore those links and your previous blogs to better understand your context…My underlying interest is to develop a deeper understanding of the voices and needs of the producers…particularly the small farmers in terms of what they are looking to get from their Fair Trade relationships and the challenges they face in a rapidly changing fair trade environment.

    Thanks again and keep up the great ‘at the coal face’ blogging!

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