OKé organic fair trade bananas come from small farming cooperatives in Ecuador who own part of OKé USA. Since late January, our farmer partners have experienced devastating flooding caused by heavier than usual seasonal rains. Some farmers have lost all or part of their land due to the flooding. The Zaruma family of 5 brothers, who live entirely off of their production, lost their entire 18.5 acre farm. Some farmers have experienced even more difficult losses including William Vitonera who lost his 14-year-old son in a surging river that changed its course due to the floods. The flooding in Ecuador has been so catastrophic that in early February the President declared a national state of emergency.
Here at OKé, we are trying to help our producer partners in any way we can, including advance payments to the co-op so it can provide emergency credit to its members. The farmer co-ops are also working with additional credit agencies to facilitate replanting of farms. The farmers also want to start lobbying local authorities to improve watershed management and start dredging rivers in order to avoid these problems in the future.
During times like these, it makes me really proud to be a part of an organization with farmer co-owners. Within the conventional banana trade, these disasters often leave farmers without a market, as traditional companies flee to source from different countries.
Our ownership structure is sincerely our most unique quality. This structure is what creates long standing relationship and a culture of commitment whereby we stand by our producer partners even when “inconvenient” difficulties arise that create gaps in our supply chain. We hope that you will do the same and stand by us during this difficult time.
Overview of Damage of Ecuador Flooding
A bird's eye view of loss in Ecuador:
51,300 people affected
3,645 people evacuated
490 experienced property loss
24 provinces affected
OKé Farm damage
25 acres of organic farm land
300 acres of conventional farm land
4% decreased production
6-9 month estimate to recover from damages
If you would like to see additional pictures of the Ecuadorian floods,