9 Oct 2020

Small Producer Organizations honoured in Fairtrade Awards

In a series of articles leading up to the 2020 International Fairtrade Awards on October 29, we take a closer look at the finalists in the four categories: Small Producer Organization (SPO) of the Year; Hired Labour Organization (HLO) of the Year; Trader of the Year and Campaign of the Year. This week we feature the work of the three finalists in the SPO category.

High in the mountainous country of Caldas in north-west Colombia, a group of women meet to discuss business. They manage the Cooperativa de Caficultores del Norte de Caldas, a Fairtrade certified coffee cooperative and finalists in the 2020 International Fairtrade Awards.

“In the past women were mainly relegated only to household chores and looking after the children,” says Lindelia Quintero Suarez, Director of the co-op. “But now women are becoming leaders. We’re learning to work as a team and be an example to other women.”

Co-op President Liliana Andrea Valencia agrees. “My role in the co-op is particularly special because I am a woman. Very few women get the chance to represent coffee growers.”

The women have used their leadership positions and decided to use the Fairtrade Premium - the extra money the co-op receives for selling on Fairtrade terms - to establish health programmes for co-op members. “We promote women’s health and advise them how to take care of themselves,” says Liliana. “That has been very beautiful for the women, they feel very loved by the co-op, they feel valued and know that women are important for the organisation.”

Fellow Colombian finalists Cooperativa Multiactiva de Bananeros del Magdalena have invested their Fairtrade Permium money into sports, cultural and college programmes to benefit young people in the Magdalena region.

“We invest in our young people, whether they are from a producer family or simply that they live here,” says Roger Enrique Martinez Diaz, President of the Sports and Recreation Committee. “The idea is to keep these youngsters away from drug addiction and to develop them through sport and culture.”

Jason Durán Granados is coaching a group of young men and women at the co-op’s impressive sports stadium. “Fairtrade is the best thing to happen here. Previously, the kids had time on their hands. Today, thanks to Fairtrade, we have a real sporting success story.”

It’s not just athletes who benefit. University student Jeison Silgado Attamas attends the University of Magdalena on the Fairtrade scholarship. “The co-op supports my studies. When I was younger I had a good academic record but I had no money. I am living proof that it is possible to transform the social potential of young people in this region if we believe in their talent,” he says.

The third finalist in the SPO of the Year category is Asunafo North Union, a cocoa co-operative with more than eight thousand members in Ghana, West Africa which was established in 2012. “It’s very amazing looking at how far we’ve gone in terms of the Fairtrade system,” says Manager Patrick Owusu. “Fairtrade has made a huge impact on the lives and communities of our members.”

One of those to benefit is cocoa farmer Yaa Asentewaa. “Previously, I couldn’t save or afford to send my children to school, but with my current earnings my children are furthering their education. One is in Senior High School and the other is at Training College.”

Michael Appiagyei Sarpong, the co-op’s savings and loans manager, helps members manage their finances. “Our farmers are financially independent. They can now access financial facilities like loans for their farm work, for their children, for other projects and other investment opportunities,” he says.

We will announce the winners of the Fairtrade Awards on October 29. Stay tuned!