MAKING THE FAIRTRADE DIFFERENCE
For every bunch of All Good bananas you buy, you’re contributing to truly make a difference to the lives of growers, their families and the El Guabo community.
May 15th 2013
Every time you buy a bunch of Fairtrade bananas, as well as ensuring farmers receive a fair price, you’re contributing to a Fairtrade premium that goes directly back to the El Guabo community.
The 430 small-scale farmers who make up the cooperative vote on how the premium funds are spent in their community. Since the cooperative was established this valuable premium contribution has helped to fund a huge range of projects that make a real difference-health clinics, local schools, business development and environmental projects amongst many other things.
Since All Good Bananas were launched in New Zealand in February 2010, Kiwis have contributed over $280,000 (NZD) in Fairtrade premium funding, in addition to the fair price we pay for each box, to the El Guabo community.
What are some of the projects this money has gone towards?
The premium helps fund 17 primary school teachers and a special needs school. These schools are located in areas where producers and workers of El Guabo live and where their children attend. In 2012, the premium fund also helped to build 3 new classrooms for local schools.
Each year El Guabo provides each child of the producers, workers, and administrative staff a backpack and a $45 fund to purchase school supplies. Last year the schools supplies and backpacks were distributed to the children of 371 workers, 441 producers and 56 employees. The Fairtrade premium has also been used to fund college scholorships for children involved with El Guabo, many of which are the first in their family to attend college.
El Guabo Special Needs School
Therapist Teresa Vivanco (pictured) is one of the teachers at El Guabo’s special needs school, funded by the Fairtrade premium. She takes students like Miguel through language and physical therapy sessions as well as normal classes and gives these kids an opportunity to learn and participate in local life.
Prior to the school being established it was difficult for kids such as Miguel to get the care they needed. Local schools were mostly unable to cater for special needs. Sadly, without adequate resources for education, many of these children were left uneducated, dependent and stuck at home. In Ecuador, 80% of parents with special needs children live in poverty.
The establishment of the school, founded in 2000 and funded by the Fairtrade premium, provided a much needed support network for local families. It currently teaches 35 full time students with many others coming in for a variety of special therapy sessions. Teresa and one other therapist are funded each year by the premium as well as the ongoing running of the school.
The El Guabo Association of Small Banana Producers (El Guabo ASBP) Medical Center was established to ensure that every family belonging to the Association, 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. The center is staffed with 5 health care professionals.
A dedicated respiratory specialist, Dr Daisy, is funded by the premium, dealing with children and adults with respiratory problems like asthma. Respiratory illnesses, poisoning and severe skin irritation caused by exposure to pesticides used to be prevalent in the area but Dr Daisy observes that since the farms have converted to Fairtrade and more sustainable environmental practices these problems have dissipated.
Above and beyond the rigorous environmental standards set out in the Fairtrade certification, El Guabo banana farmers are always looking for ways to make their farms even more sustainable. One such project is now being funded by the El Guabo’s Fairtrade premium.
When local chicken farmers were asked by the Government to clean up their act and find a sustainable use for tonnes of chicken waste. El Guabo farmers put their hands up.
El Guabo pick up the unwanted poop at the chicken farm, let it dry, then they put it in bags as compost. Chicken poop makes an ideal low cost, sustainable and completely organic fertilizer.
Fertilisation is one of the most limiting factors in the production system of small farmers. Fertiliser is expensive and organic fertiliser even more so (about 3 times more expensive). With this project, funded by the Fairtrade premium, El Guabo may be able to make adequate, organic fertilisation feasible for less than the costs of the synthetic equivalents for small farmers and it is organic! They hope to be able to raise production by 50% or more. It’s also a great way of helping local other companies and improving the sustainability of the community.
By-products from other local farms are also used for organic fertilizer – nothing goes to waste including harvested and processed coca, (coffee) rice grasses, ash and local soil. All the ingredients are mixed together to compost further then allowed todry. In five weeks it is ready to be distributed to all the El Guabo farmers.
Twenty percent of the premium funds are spent on business development and infrastructure improvement projects to empower local farmers. Projects include improving access to credit, leadership development, and collective access to farm equipment. One such project looks at precision agriculture. El Guabo is currently developing a 60-acre organic, communal farm that will experiment with precision agriculture techniques. This new system will allow for better timing of harvest and will take advantage of advanced soil science to create more efficient and ecological agricultural practices.