Juan Marquez has grown baby bananas for seven years, but he only has a couple of weeks of experience in growing regular bananas.
-I’m learning, he says.
-I started with baby banana, but there doesn’t seem to be demand in Europe, so now we’re getting rid of the baby bananas and planting bananas in stead. It looks like the banana farming is going to go a lot better. The banana grows well and generates more income, says Marquez.
Asoguabo encourages the members who grow orito (baby banana) to plant regular bananas in stead, because the demand for baby bananas is low. So the farmers in the mountain villages Muyuyacu and La Florida are changing crops, and it seems to be going well. A couple of months ago you could only see the small baby banana bunches on harvest day, but now bunches of bigger bananas are hanging in the packing plants waiting to be sent to the port.
-I quit the baby banana completely, and now I only grow bananas, says Ernesto Dávila.
He started growing baby bananas when Asoguabo recruited new farmers to start exporting the fruit eight years ago. The demand wasn’t as high as expected. The Finnish chain of Siwa-markets, for example, stopped buying baby bananas. So last year Dávila began growing bananas.
But back in the day, the exporting of the orito changed the lives of the farmers in the mountains.
-We had the luck to export directly through Asoguabo at a better price. We can take it easy and my kids can go to school. I don’t have to work elsewhere to make enough money, and I feel like the master of my own farm, says Juan Marquez.