Abel Saenz lives and grows bananas in the village Campo Real. He used to only grow bananas for feeding his animals, but five years ago he joined Asoguabo. Now he travels frequently between the village and the co-op’s offices in El Guabo.
-My routines changed when I and the other farmers in the village joined. It meant organizing, paperwork, going to the office to take care of business… I like working with my ”compañeros” in the village.
Together, they’ve bought chainsaws and other tools they share, with money from the fairtrade premium which is a dollar per banana box sold.
-I’ve gotten to know new people, I’ve participated in courses about leadership and other subjects, and learned a lot.
But of the 12 farmers who originally joined, only 8 are left.
-It’s demanding to grow bananas for export. It’s not like farming for your own comsumption. But if you make it, it’s worthwhile. My income is a lot better now when I farm two crops: banana and cacao. I used to farm only cacao. But the future looks tough because of the lack of roads to the farms. Many farmers have to transport the bananas on mules, and the bananas are damaged on the way.
What do you want to say to the consumers?
-Fair Trade improves the life of small farmers that live and work on their farms. That’s why we constantly try to improve the quality of the bananas to be able to stay in Fair Trade. Who else would buy our bananas? We would be marginalised among the transnationals.