Fairtrasa commits to partner with 3,000 small-scale banana, avocado, lime and other fruit farmers and 300 packers in Colombia, to bring their local produce to global markets at fair prices. Fairtrasa will implement its unique three-tier development model to support farmers at all development stages.
At the first tier, Fairtrasa supports growers who own land, but do not have the financial resources or technical skills to grow a higher quality or valued crop. Fairtrasa provides seeds, capital, and expert advice so that they can begin planting higher value crops.
At the second tier, Fairtrasa supports growers who already produce crops but only have limited agricultural know-how and currently sell their produce to middle-men at low prices. Fairtrasa provides technical support, pools the volume of all other tier 2 farmers, and coordinates the export to international markets.
At the third tier, Fairtrasa supports the most advanced growers who generally have advanced technical knowledge but lack necessary certifications, infrastructure, and secure sales networks. Fairtrasa will assist tier 3 farmers in developing packing stations, obtaining international trade certifications, and connecting farmers to its global sales network.
At each tier, Fairtrasa provides tailored training in farming techniques such as soil fertility, pruning, and fertilization and irrigation systems, to ensure that produce meets international quality standards. Farmers will also be taught about organic farming techniques and how to convert their orchards into eco-friendly farms in order to receive higher prices for their produce, and keep quality and consistency high. Fairtrasa will support their farmers with logistical support from harvest to packing and shipping. .
Upon arrival to the US and Europe, Fairtrasa will provide a detailed quality report of each container to give feedback to farmers. The Fairtrasa sales team will sell the produce at the best market prices directly to retailers and wholesalers, while the additional premium for all fairtrade sales will flow back to the farmers for community development programs.
Fairtrasa will focus on supporting small-scale banana, avocado, and lime farmers, where Fairtrasa is already a market leader and can provide the best prices to the growers.
In 2014, Fairtrasa will partner with 12 to 15 tier-2 cooperatives (for a total of 500 farmers) in the regions of Magdalena, Antioquia, Choco, Tolima, Caldas, Risaralda, Valle del Cauca. Agronomists will teach these farmers how to increase their yields and develop organic crops. Fairtrasa's management team will assist with organic, Fairtrade and international quality certifications needed for export. By the end of 2014, the first containers will be exported. Forming productive, trusting relationships with these growers is extremely important. Once farmers experience higher yields and the positive economic impact, more farmers will be drawn to Fairtrasa by word of mouth (as repetitively experienced in other Latin American countries). Additionally, Fairtrasa will use the Ashoka, Endeavor, and abc* networks to find high-impact NGOs with which to partner.
In 2015, Fairtrasa will include tier-1 farmers recommended by tier-2 farmers. Fairtrasa will organize farmer trainings, crop evaluation and financing options for tier-1 farmers. By the end of 2015, Fairtrasa will have added 300 tier-1 farmers, in addition to 700 new tier-2 farmers.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, Fairtrasa expects to grow its farmer network to other regions and to include other crops. Fairtrasa will partner with another 1,500 farmers in tiers 1 and 2. By the end of 2016 it is also expected that some 200 tier-2 farmers will have reached tier-3 and all of them will be receiving a sustainable income.
By the end of 2017, Fairtrasa will be working with 3,000 farmers and 300 pickers, packers, and logistics professionals in Colombia. Fairtrasa also believes that by 2017, some 500 farmers will have reached tier-3 and will export directly to Fairtrasa's sales networks.
Today, poverty levels in rural areas double those in the larger cities and per capita income is merely $4 a day (WSJ, Sept. 7, 2013) and two million Colombians live in extreme poverty (IFAD, 2012). Like many smallholders around the world, Colombia's farmers face severe challenges. First, they generally produce low quality fruit with low yields because they lack agricultural know-how and/or adequate farming inputs and technology. More importantly, small-scale farmers generally sell their fruit to middlemen or in local markets at low prices as they lack access to fair paying markets, transportation to get there, or connections to supply chains. The combination of these factors traps millions of small-scale farmers in a vicious circle with little hope to escape poverty without support from the outside.
The government's commitment to much-needed reforms in the agriculture sector and a promising peace process after Colombia's long civil war are a sign of hope for Colombia's farmers as it opens the long awaited opportunities for them. Vital agricultural services, such as financing and sanitary inspections, should now be delivered to rural areas while crucial private and public investments will modernize Colombia's infrastructure. Yet, small-scale farmers can only take full advantage of this new momentum if they can overcome the lack of agricultural know-how and develop trading relationships that give them direct access to international markets.
Fairtrasa seeks: 1) technical agricultural support and know-how; 2) financial resources; 3) markets in the US for their products; and 4) media support. Furthermore, Fairtrasa seeks to partner with universities, NGOs and research institutes to provide training and infrastructure to small growers.
The Fairtrasa Group is a vertically integrated farmer development organization that controls the supply chain from the field to the store. Fairtrasa offers a large sales network as a leader in organic and fairtrade fruits from Latin America. Fairtrasa's import companies have long-standing relationships with many of the major wholesalers and retailers in Europe. Fairtrasa is willing to work with other socially-minded companies and nonprofits to promote the organic and fairtrade movement. Fairtrasa also offers "best practices" in the field of farmer development, fairtrade and organic certification.