Likes to work together

Abel Saenz likes cooperating with the other farmers in the cooperative and often goes to the office in El Guabo.

Abel Saenz likes cooperating with the other farmers in the cooperative and often goes to the office in El Guabo.

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.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Likes to work together

  1. Thanks again for yet another interesting insight into the lives of the farmers directly involved in fair trading.

    I was particularly interested in the relationship between Abel and Asoguabo.

    Have you or others written elsewhere about further aspects of this relationship?

    ie What is involved in farmers joining the co-op? Does the co-op have relationships with individual farmers or villages and village representatives? How does the co-op distribute the fair trade premium? Are their formal, legal contracts between the farmers and the co-op? Etc??

    Thanks again

  2. Annika

    Hi!
    On my blog, there`s a link to Asoguabo`s website. Basically it works like this: individual farmers join the co-op, and every farmer is also a member of one of the 15 farmer groups or member associations. Here`s an earlier entry about the farmer groups. Here`s an earlier entry about the history of the co-op. Hope it helps!
    And yes, there are formal, legal contracts between the farmers and the co-op. The co-op gets 80 cents of the 1 dollar premium, and the farmer group gets 20 cents. The farmers have to decide democratically how to use the premium. Here`s another earlier entry on the subject. Hope the links work!

  3. Annika,

    Once again many thanks for this info…you are such a great source of info on producer context and insights…it is interesting that this type of info and detailed producer perspectives are not easy to access…keep up the great work!!

    Cheers

  4. Annika

    Thanks, I´m glad to hear that!

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