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"The cooperative model provided a solution to the tax pressure on banana producers in Peru"

In 2013, drawn by tax benefits, Apbosmam was the first Peruvian banana growers' association to become a cooperative. Today, the organization, based in Sullana, Piura, supplies four importers from Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands with bananas that are certified organic and fair trade.

Training session for banana producers.

"We started in 2006 as an association of 30 small banana producers with 30 hectares," says Miguel Borrero, former manager of Apbosmam. "As a small organization, we depended on a third company that bought our bananas. We were exclusively devoted to delivering the bananas, while the buyer handled and exported them. However, this form of trade wasn't good for us, since the company to which we sold the bananas set the prices at their discretion."

A group of producers who have passed the training.

Certifications are key to opening markets
"After that, we began a process of organizational strengthening, incorporating new producers in new areas. To get where we are now, we had to build our own packing warehouse and obtain the relevant certifications, including GlobalG.A.P., Fairtrade, USDA Organic and EU Organic, all in the name of the cooperative."

According to Miguel, one of the purposes for which the association was created was to improve the quality of life of the producing families in the area. "Having our own certifications and a fair trade income allowed us to improve at an organizational level, and we started working on youth issues, women's issues, social issues or health issues; for example, making improvements in medical centers in the area, or providing furniture and computer equipment to schools."

Banana bunches are placed in a disinfectant water bath.

An example for other organizations
Since 2013, the year the cooperative was formed, other banana organizations in the area have followed on Apbosmam's steps, transforming into cooperatives. "The fact is that in those years, the National Superintendence of Tax Administration (SUNAT) intended to charge the producers a tax on each box of bananas sold, in addition to the taxes collected from the association. The cooperative model provided a solution, since the producers who were part of a cooperative were exempt from this additional tax."

Bananas are placed in boxes weighing 18.14 kilos.

Besides the importing clients in Europe, Apbosmam recently started conversations with some clients from South Korea and the U.S. for some initial shipments, "but unfortunately there is now a shortage of fruit, so we have not continued those conversations. We do not have enough supply at this time, so we are fine with the clients we already have," says Miguel Borrero.

Pallets of bananas ready for shipment.

Fertilization plan
The cooperative seeks to increase its production, not just through the incorporation of new partners and new lands, but also by improving its productivity with a fertilization plan. "We have noticed a bit of a nutritional deficit in the fields, as well as a water deficit, because the water from the reservoir is distributed every 20-30 days, but banana plants need to be irrigated every 12-15 days. In our area, the main crop is rice, which can be irrigated every 30 days, and that sets the pace for irrigation times. While rice provides employment to 100,000 people in the region, the banana sector does that for just 10,000 families, so it's a structural problem. However, to address that lack of water, we are proposing implementing a fertilization plan with premium funds, which will undoubtedly help producers recover their productive capacity," says Miguel Borrero.

The offices of Apbosmam.

For more information:
Calle Sánchez Cerro s/n
Cas. Mallaritos
Marcavelica – Sullana, Piura. Peru
Tel.: +51 932124928
[email protected]

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