Locally Sourced Plantains for Indigenous Congress

Yem loads a sack of plantains into the cart

The Association of Darien Indigenous Collective Lands held their Congress on the 13-14th of December, hosting nearly 3,000 people from all the Embera Collective Land villages in Darien. Needless to say, they required a lot of plantains, one of the staple foods in Panama. Their need aligned with our plantain harvest, so we ended up supplying 2,000 plantains for the two-day event. 

A few months back we contracted a local welder (and informal Planting Empowerment mechanic), Jose Luis Ramos, from Meteti to make us a cart to attach to the motorcycle for transporting plantains, seeds, saplings, etc. to the plantations. We bought him the materials and in three days, he constructed an extremely sturdy cart that latches onto the motorcycle and ports five or six sacks at once through uneven terrain of the plantation. It's been a lifesaver in terms of heavy lifting for our daily laborers. For the amount of plantains we are producing, this tool is key for saving on labor costs.  

On Wednesday, we had three laborers for the harvest. They begin by cutting the ripe plantain bunches from the stalk, then carry them to the staging area, near our transport, to be sorted. We then put them into sacks to count (for accounting purposes, exactly 100 fit into a sack) and then they are ready for transport. All told, we made five trips between the plantations and town with the cart. Then, they were be peeled, cut, and boiled or fried, and fed to the hungry crowd.  

The leadership that decided to source through us got great benefits out of the deal: they fed a lot of people with organic and local plantains, supported local employment, got a fair price at $0.12 a piece, and soon they will get a portion of their payment back in the form of profit-sharing!

See all the photos on our Google+ page.