Maria Cristina Anrrango and her husband, José Rafael, both have important roles in the organic goldenberry value chain in the AZAMA association. Maria Cristina is the president of the association, and José is a star goldenberry farmer in charge of the weekly reception and weighing of goldenberries at the collection center. It was five years ago when Maria Cristina and José, both frustrated by the lack of consistent prices and buyers for other agricultural products, decided to set up a goldenberry association in partnership with TerraFertil. Maria Cristina remembers “…that it was not easy and we had to invest time and money in constructing the collection point, buying plastic crates, and opening a bank account, which required $600”. But they wholeheartedly agree that it has been worth it! AZAMA, which started with only five members, has grown to 120 members, and is one of TerraFertil’s outstanding producer associations, regularly selling over 3,000 kg’s per week to the company. That’s over $3,000 a week directly into association member’s pockets in a region where paid work is extremely hard to come by.
The couple’s lives have been notably enriched by their entrepreneurial ventures with goldenberry. Maria Cristina has grown into a respected leader in the community with the association providing the most reliable and lucrative form of revenue for local families. José earns between $80-$250 a week from his 700 goldenberry plants, which is significantly higher than the average for rural Ecuador. This has allowed the family to grow their savings to over $16,000, which the couple has invested to improve their home, and stock and run a community store. Looking forward, José says that “we want to continue to grow, and a next step will be to expand the collection center further for greater production”.