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Equal Exchange Fair Trade Bananas

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Earl’s Organic bananas are Fair Trade Certified 365 Days A YEAR.

Equal Exchange Bananas are grown in Ecuador by small farmers under the AsoGuabo Cooperative.  Farmer cooperatives are groups of small farmers that have come together to collectively operate their businesses at a larger scale. They share resources, capital, and knowledge, democratically electing leadership and collectively making decisions. In addition to being small farmer cooperative-led, all of Equal Exchange farmer partners are certified organic and Fairtrade.

ASOGUABO

AsoGuabo is considered a pioneer in the Fairtrade banana movement. For over 20 years, this cooperative based in el Guabo, el Oro, Ecuador has produced top-quality bananas while blazing a trail for democratic organizations, locally-led community development work, and advocacy for rural communities.

Fair Trade Premium Project Highlights: Improvement of farms: adding cables, cemented lines, packhouses, bridges, biofábrica: creating “bioles” using microorganism for soil health, grants made to local educational foundations, healthcare expansion.

The story of AsoGuabo, one of Equal Exchange’s farmer partners, is a success story in grassroots organizing. In 1998, 14 small-scale banana farmers in southwest Ecuador decided to take the tremendous risk of sending one container (about 38,400 lbs) of bananas to Europe with the hope of selling it directly to a supermarket. By cutting out the middleman, they took the power back into their own hands. With the sale of this first container, the El Guabo Association of Small Banana Producers was born. The entrepreneurs transformed themselves from individual, marginalized growers into a democratically run organization with access to the international market.

Today, AsoGuabo is a farmer-run co-operative with 350 small-scale banana farmers. Each farmer is committed to improving quality of life for themselves and their communities. In addition to earning a fair price for their bananas, the co-op receives an additional $1 per case (approx. 40 lbs of bananas) as a Fair Trade social premium. AsoGuabo’s members voted to spend the premium on education, health care, retirement, environmental projects and infrastructure improvements. Additionally, AsoGuabo is giving back to the local and global community by sharing their highly successful cooperative model with other producer groups in Ecuador and throughout the world.

In 2019 Jonathan and Spencer from Earl’s Banana Team traveled to Ecuador as part of Equal Exchange’s annual banana delegation. The delegation consisted of Equal Exchange employees, sales members from east coast distributors and a smattering of produce managers and buyers of grocery co-ops from the Northeast states.  The delegation visited the AsoGuabo banana cooperative that supplies Equal Exchange’s banana program.  They also visited several growers including an agroforestry producer in the mountains.  They saw all operations from growing and cultivation though harvest and packing.  It was truly an educational experience. 

AsoGuabo also manages the Fair Trade funded projects which includes; school infrastructural support, water treatment, women’s vocational training, drug rehab, and much more.  Jonathan and Spencer visited an elementary school that had a new roof installed from Fair Trade funds, a small neighborhood water filtration plant and a women’s culinary school.  Lastly, they toured the Port of Bolivar, an historic banana shipping port undergoing major upgrades to allow for large shipping container vessels to load volume.

2019 Delegation visit to Asoguabo. Jonathan Kitchens, Earl’s Organic Banana Buyer,  is pictured 2 from the left

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