Banana Growers Benefit from Dutch-Colombian Partnership
Over 700 Colombian banana and plantain farmers and workers will benefit from a new public-private partnership between Colombia and the Netherlands to improve the standard of living of small producers.
As part of the partnership, six banana cooperatives from the Magdalena region will supply around 13 000 boxes of Fairtrade bananas per week to Dutch retail chains, with the aim to increase their Fairtrade sales over time.
The region has suffered throughout the last few decades from political conflict and the partnership will lead to more stability and peace in the area, as well as increase the quality of life for the small producers and their communities.
As members of Fairtrade certified cooperatives, farmers will receive a Fairtrade Premium to spend on social and business development projects, which they decided democratically how to invest. An assessment of the farmer’s needs revealed that farm infrastructure is the producers’ main priority, with the focal point on improving irrigation - especially during drought periods.
Carla Veldhuyzen van Zanten, Fairtrade International’s Regional Coordinator for Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuala, said improvements will reduce costs and enable small farmers to become more competitive.
“This is essential for small farmers to survive among rich landowners buying up the land around them. We also identified organizational strengthening and business development skills as priorities which will be addressed by the project,” she said.
The partnership builds on the 2010 decision by the Dutch retailer, PLUS, to go for 100 percent Fairtrade bananas. The supermarkets SPAR and Attent soon followed suit meaning that more small Colombian farmers, their families and communities benefit from this extra demand.
The public private partnership was signed in September by Augura, Fyffes, Max Havelaar/ Fairtrade, Uniban and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a special expert meeting on sustainable agricultural trade between Colombia and the Netherlands.