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.
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.
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.