Anibal Fernando Cabrera Ochoa is an organic banana farmer in the El Oro region of Ecuador, near the Peruvian border.
He has a medium-sized piece of land where he grows bananas and some cocoa. Since 2003 he has been a member of El Guabo Co-operative of 450 small-scale banana producers. These farmers have taken power back into their own hands and have transformed their small farms into an organisation which sells to international buyers at a fair price.
Anibal has lived on this farm since he was 6 years old. Life was tough for his family before they joined El Guabo. Originally his father Luis farmed cocoa on their land. “The problem with cocoa is that it only produces an income for four months of the year, the other eight months we had to borrow money to maintain the farm when there was no production. We had to migrate to big banana plantations to find more work in these eight months to be able to survive“. Anibal wanted to find a way to change this situation for his family.
“I have been a social member, treasurer and am now the secretary of El Guabo…With the help of Fairtrade, life is much better.”
In the early 1990s, Anibal heard about the El Guabo banana co-operative. Behind his fathers back, Anibal decided to learn all he could about growing and processing bananas. “I didn’t know the process so I went to the producers to learn what I could. Now my Dad is very happy we joined El Guabo and is thankful for all the opportunities this has given us. I have been a social member, treasurer and am now the secretary of El Guabo.”
“This has meant a lot to me economically because I was in a very poor economic situation. Now we have a level of income that is a lot more stable throughout the year for our families and workers. When I started selling bananas to El Guabo I only had 10 boxes of bananas, now I have a much larger volume. With the help of Fairtrade, life is much better. “
It is still hard work being a banana farmer. The terrain of Anibal’s property is so steep that they have to carry the bananas down from the hills on their backs at harvest time. But with the help of his neighbours, and fellow members of El Guabo, life is made a little easier. “Now thanks to fair trade we are able to work all the time on other members of the co-operatives farms. We can now stay on our farms all year and we help out other farmers from the El Guabo co-operative with their bananas on their properties.”
El Guabo is committed to improving the quality of life of their members and their communities. El Guabo receives a Fairtrade premium, a sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade price. The growers democratically decide what to spend this on, to benefit their communities and organisation.
El Guabo put 80% of this into education, health-care, environmental projects and other social programs. The remaining 20% is spent on improving their infrastructure to keep the quality of their bananas high.
Anibal Cabrera’s daughter Noemi is about to do what no one else in his family has. Go to university. This is thanks to the money received from selling Fairtrade bananas.
“Thanks to fair trade my daughter has a high level of education. This is what all the farmers at El Guabo hope for. She is now preparing to go to university”.
Through buying All Good Bananas, you support the growers and their families to have better lives, while you get to enjoy their quality bananas. These bananas are good for the producers, good for the land and good for you. Thanks to you, things are “All Good” for Anibal and especially for his daughter Noemi.
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