About Fair Trade

Producer Stories Back


“We experienced very difficult times when we weren't in Fairtrade. It was very worrying to have children and knew you couldn't provide the opportunity for the life they deserve.” – Foncho

Fairtrade Banana

Foncho began banana farming when he was 10 years old, while helping out his father. Now, he makes a living out of banana farming and works for 12-13 hours a day to make his business work. Foncho lives with his wife, daughter (19 years old) and their son Sebastian (15 years old). He loves spending time with his family in Departamento del Magdalena, Colombia.


Foncho is a member of Coobafrio Co-operative (Riofrio Banana Co-operative), which was founded by his father and other farmers in the late 1990s. It was created so that they could negotiate better prices with their buyers by joining together and selling their bananas as a group.


80% of employment in Magdalena is provided by the banana industry. However, large-scale palm oil plantations are now displacing bananas leading to the loss of many jobs.


Farmers were pressured to sell their land, and some brutal landowners were even diverting water from the farmers’ land to force them to sell. Farmers were also challenged by the high cost of fertilizers, small size of farms and adverse weather conditions.


Coobafrio was Fairtrade certified in 2011. Co-operative members sell two-thirds of their 240,000 boxes of bananas produced every year as Fairtrade. On top of the minimum price, there is an additional Fairtrade Premium of $1.00 a box invested for business and community development.


The most effective use of the premium has been the distribution of subsidized fertilizers and the organization of training programs to improve farmers’ technical knowledge.


Almost 100% of the members stated that they have experienced improvements in the quality of life and economic situations, and felt that they have greater control over their futures.