Fairtrade enables growers to break free from poverty. Rather than being forced to accept charity, farmers have the security of a stable price for their produce, the freedom to invest this in their own community and the independence to make decisions for their own future.
All Good Fairtrade Bananas
All Good are the first and only Fairtrade bananas in New Zealand. It’s taken us two years and lots of jumping through hoops to get them into the country. Our Fairtrade and Fairtrade organic bananas are sourced directly from a small cooperative of 430 farms in El Guabo in Ecuador. El Guabo is made up of small family owned farms and everyone in the family is involved in the farm – from tending the trees to harvesting, washing and packing. The farm is the whole family’s livelihood and some have been passed down for generations.
El Guabo’s Fairtrade Premium
The El Guabo cooperative members decide democratically how they spend their Fairtrade premium. Some of the things they have invested in include:
- Setting up the El Guabo Medical Center, which was established to ensure that every family belonging to the cooperative, be they farmers or their relatives and children, are able to get good medical care when they need it. The service is available 24 hours a day all year round and is financed by the Fairtrade premium.
- Farm workers have health insurance paid for them, they receive a food hamper once a month and an allowance for school equipment for their children.
- Education for local children has improved dramatically; school supplies are provided to all children in the community. And some families are now able to send their children to college for the first time. A school for children with special needs has also been built, and the staff are financed by Fairtrade funds.
- After devastating floods in the first quarter of 2008, El Guabo’s farms were in need of repairs that could only be provided by a bobcat excavator. Donations from the Fairtrade community contributed US$38,000 (about NZ$50,000) towards the purchase of an excavator for El Guabo.
- Through the Fairtrade premium, El Guabo farmers have been able to educate themselves about more environmentally-friendly farming methods – to stop farm pollution entering waterways, reduce soil erosion, use organic fertiliser and compost, and ban the use of chemicals such as nematicides and tiabendazole.
Fairtrade helps to empower women within male dominated societies where they haven’t always received a fair deal. Sylvia Ramírez is not only a farmer, but also the Vice President of the El Guabo Association of Small Banana Producers and member of the El Guabo Women’s Group. Since being able to sell in the Fairtrade market, Sylvia has spoken of the many benefits Fairtrade has brought her and other women in her community:
“Fairtrade has given us the space to organise as women – to meet and discuss things. For us and our families, for the community and the environment, this is the future; it is the way forward…. The biggest difference with Fairtrade is that before we never had any money. We had to take out loans. Now we can plan and spend money to improve things on the farm. Fairtrade has given us stability. Now we can spend on better education for the kids, on better groceries for the family, better clothes. Our children can to go better schools. We always want to get a better education for them.”
Sylvia Ramirez, banana farmer, Ecuador