Learning Fair Trade on the farm

Frank Vloet, Jannet Wagner and Nienke Wieldraajer are washing bananas.

Frank Vloet, Jannet Wagner and Nienke Wieldraajer are washing bananas.

Ten Dutch students, all around 20 years, old have found their places in the harvesting process. One washes bananas, another puts stickers on the bananas, a third loads banana boxes into the truck. They’re not allowed to carry the banana bunches from the fields, because the farmer can’t risk that the fruit will be damaged. And they can’t use machetes and other sharp tools. But they’re learning many of the other tasks in the harvesting process. All day they work with the regulars, until the last box of bananas is in the truck.

Marloes van Drie is sticking fairtrade labels on the bananas that are going to Finland.

Marloes van Drie is sticking fairtrade labels on the bananas that are going to Finland.

They’ve spent over a week in El Guabo. Lived with farmers’ families, gotten to know the office, interviewed the employees, worked on farms. They’ve also had time to visit the chocolate factory Pacari in northern Ecuador, where fairtrade cacao is used.

They want to learn as much as possible about Fair Trade before they return to Holland onj Wednesday. There, they’ll be opening a restaurant where they’ll serve Ecuadorian food and tell the guests about Fair Trade during one month. The money they earn will be donated to IFAT, http://www.ifat.org the international organization for Fair Trade.

During their days here they’re taking pictures and video clips of the banana farming, to show in their restaurant. They’re also writing a blog from Ecuador. Joanne Bos is one of the students.

Gijs-bert Mesu and Robert Oorschot are loading the truck.

Gijs-bert Mesu and Robert Oorschot are loading the truck.

-I’ve been an intern in a fairtrade company, and I knew about all the positive sides of Fair Trade. Here I’ve seen that there are problems as well, like the fairtrade price not being so good, and that’s confusing. Now I’m thinking about what to say to the guests in the restaurant. People only remember the negative things, and forget the positive parts.

She likes Asoguabo’s good working atmosphere.

-People say it’s like a family, and that’s a good thing. To be able to joke and have fun at work is necessary to survive.

Their partners

  • The students’ trip to Ecuador is a collaboration between two organizations: ICCO and Happy Gift.
  • Happy Gift is a Dutch organization for students who want to do something for the world. They raise money for charity through starting temporary restaurants called  ”Happietaria”, since 1993. This year there will be 10 restaurants like that.
  • The students in El Guabo will open two, one in Utrecht and another in Zwolle. The goal is not just to raise money, but mainly to raise awareness of the restaurant’s theme, in this case Fair Trade, which isn’t as big in Holland as it is in Finland, Italy och Switzerland.
  • The youth program ”Togetthere” supports groups of students who want to work as volunteers and travel to learn. The program is a cooperation between the Dutch interchurch commission for development ICCO and the protestant mission focused organization Church in Action.
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Learning Fair Trade on the farm

  1. Jannet Wagner

    Dear Annika,

    How great to read a blog about our trip! Thanks for doing this promotion for the Happietaria’s.

    What a great stories are on this blog, I’ll read everything in the next few days. I miss Ecuador and all the El Guabo-people. Tuesday evening was a fantastic event to close the adventure of two weeks…

    Maybe we see you again, in Holland or else in the world. You were an inspiring person for the whole group, thank you for all :).

    Best wishes, Jannet.

  2. Annika

    Hi Jannet! So nice to hear from you!
    Your visit to El Guabo was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Ecuador, so thank you for that! You were very inspiring for me and I am glad I got to know you! I admire you all for being so interested and curious and respectful and open, giving part of yourselves to the people in El Guabo.
    I am really going to try my very best to visit the Happietarias, both of them.
    Hugs!

  3. Nienke

    Hey Annika!

    It took about two hours, but now I’ve completed reading your entire blog. It was so interesting! Your writing is really good, even though English is not your mother tongue. I’ve learned a lot about Fair Trade and El Guabo that I didn’t know yet. I’m definitelly going to use your information to create awareness in Holland about Fair Trade. It’s really nice to read all those stories about the farmers and workers, what they think the benefits are of Fair Trade and what can be improved. Also really nice to read that you wrote about us :). I hope the time left in Ecuador will be great for you and after that you will get used again to Finland and living with your husband ;).
    Give a hug to Marco from us!

    Abrazzo, Nienke

  4. Annika

    definitely i will, and i`ll tell the other guys too!
    and great that the blog can be of use to you!
    have a nice weekend and abrazo from me too!

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