The story of El Guabo, one of Equal Exchange’s farmer partners, is a success story in grassroots organizing.
The Central Association of Small Producers of Organic Bananas (CEPIBO) was formed by small scale banana farmers located across northern Peru as a non-profit cooperative to provide access to the international market by representing, coordinating and marketing banana exportation for 12 grower associations. In 2008, CEPIBO successfully exported its first container of Fair Trade certified and Organic bananas. Equal Exchange/Oké USA became their first USA partner in mid-2010.
Today, CEPIBO consists of 7 different farmer associations with a total of 800 families operating 950 hectares of land across northern Peru. All land is owned by the farmers themselves who are paid above the minimum Fair Trade price per box. In addition to owning their own land, farmers now also own the cooperative and all decision making is done democratically allowing each farmer to have representation. The transition has prompted production improvements including the building of three new packing stations greatly increasing efficiency and capacity. CEPIBO continues to use their fair price and premium to improve operations, communities, and livelihoods for their members and the members' families.
"We would like to demonstrate that, with unity, small producers are capable of contributing to the socioeconomic development of our country, not only big businesses can do it." -Jose Lecarnaque Castro, General Manager, CEPIBO