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The Global Challenge

Food security and rural poverty are two of the most significant challenges the world is facing today.


By 2050, worldwide demand for food is expected to increase by 70%. The UN has made it clear that conventional, industrial-scale farming alone will not be able to feed the world.


There are over 2 billion smallholder farmers around the globe. They feed 80% of the developing world. Yet over a billion of them live in absolute poverty.

The way we grow most of our food today is unsustainable. Several reports by the United Nations warn that among other ills, conventional, industrial-scale food production is causing

  • soil depletion and erosion
  • water scarcity
  • biodiversity loss
  • high levels of greenhouse gas emissions
  • the mass migration of the rural population into overcrowded urban areas
All the while, in recent years, the productivity of
large-scale agriculture has started to plateau.

The Solution

Studies from around the world demonstrate that the average productivity of smallholders can easily exceed that of industrial-scale agriculture, mostly because they employ more people and are able to utilize biodiversity. Compared with conventional, large farms, smallholders also

  • use fewer natural resources
  • grow healthier produce
  • maintain diverse ecosystems
  • create a more resilient food system
  • provide livelihoods for 2.2 billion people

The UN’s global overview concludes that farmer productivity can still be vastly increased. Given the right support, smallholders can feed the future. The only question is: how can we provide the kind of support that smallholders need?

The Obstacles

During our work with farmers, we found that the majority of smallholders live “siloed,” detached from best practise information and access to new and larger markets. They lack

  • best practice and best fit information that could help them increase yields sustainably
  • self-organization that could give them increased security, efficiency and bargaining power
  • access to high quality seeds and sustainable inputs
  • access to new markets, which means that they have to sell to middlemen at very low prices
  • access to warehousing and transportation, which means that harvests often go to waste

The Fairtrade movement has been effective in increasing incomes for more developed smallholders, but hundreds of millions of farmers who were unable to meet their requirements have been left out.

We’ve geared our model and infrastructure towards addressing the above gaps, as well as reaching out to the smallest growers with no other means of support.

Our Development Model

Since 2005, we have pioneered a unique, for profit business-and-development model. It has proven to be effective in turning marginalized smallholder farmers into certified organic agro-entrepreneurs who can produce for global markets, and after a period of transition, succeed without external support.

Our model’s power lies in recognizing a simple, but often overlooked truth: not all smallholders are on the same level of development. We identified three basic tiers.

Subsistence farmers

tier 1

  • Sell their products to middlemen or local markets at low prices
  • Generally have low yields due to a lack of best practice and best fit solutions
  • Lack technical expertise and resources to farm high-quality crops
  • Have no or weak associations or cooperatives.
  • Do not know how to manage and qualify for Organic and Fairtrade certifications

We provide

training, pre-financing and logistical support.

Farmers reach Tier 2 when they produce crops that meet export standards.

Post-Subsistence farmers

tier 2

  • Produce crops with better yields and higher quality
  • Fruits begin to meet export quality
  • Are developing the administrative and leadership skills of their associations or cooperatives
  • May have one or more international certifications, but need help managing them
  • Sell their fruit on local markets and / or to an exporter who sells to international markets

We provide

training, pre-financing, logistical support and market access through our export channels.

Farmers reach Tier 3 when in a position to export by themselves.

Independent agro-entrepreneurs

tier 3

  • Have good agricultural know-how, generally apply best practices and achieve high yields
  • Produce high-quality crops for international markets
  • Have well organized associations / cooperatives with elected leader
  • Manage their Organic, Fairtrade and GlobalGAP certifications
  • May sell crops directly on international markets

We provide

direct market access through our import channels.

While Fairtrade-certified food comes from small-scale Tier 3 and some Tier 2 farmers, Tier 1 and most Tier 2 farmers are completely excluded from the global food supply chain.

The goal of our model is to provide training and resources to farmers according to their specific needs, and to help each of them reach Tier 3 — in other words: to become export-capable, independent agro-entrepreneurs.

Measurement & Performance

We measure our performance against the following 5 impact goals


Improve livelihoods of farmers, workers, their families and their communities.


Bring their products into the world food supply chain and connect them with new markets and knowledge


Protect the environment.


Make smallholder farmers more productive and professional.


Establish and strengthen farmer organizations.


Improve livelihoods of farmers, workers, their families and their communities.


Make smallholder farmers more productive and professional.


Bring their products into the world food supply chain and connect them with new markets and knowledge


Establish and strengthen farmer organizations.


Protect the environment.

Through the detailed assessment of our first decade of operations, we have established that:

We have impacted the lives of over 40,000 smallholders, field workers and farmers’ families

We have distributed over $1.7 million in Fairtrade Premiums.

Through profit reinvestment and partnerships with NGOs, we have implemented over $3 million in farmer development

We inspired other social entrepreneurs in different sectors to copy our model to increase impact and wellbeing for these communities

Exponential impact through technology

Even though our Three Tier Model has proven very effective in comparison to other farmer development approaches, it still took us almost a decade to impact 40,000 lives.

In the same period, a new revolution in technology has reached agriculture. As a company that’s always approached impact through innovation, we immediately began to explore the opportunities that new technologies offered for smallholders.

In 2018, we partnered with eKutir, a widely acclaimed social tech company, and created Blooom: a soil-to-shelf tech platform for sustainable farming — designed with and for smallholders.

With Blooom, we can make life easier for millions of smallholders in any place where there is connectivity — and at a low cost.

Before Blooom, farmer development meant putting people on the ground in each country, working with growers one by one, and increasing impact in a bottom-up, linear fashion. With Blooom, we are able to reach new farmers instantly without building and owning new infrastructure.

Instead, we partner with other companies and organizations who are already active in the area. By adopting Blooom in their farmer networks, they can simplify their operations, increase yields and sell their products directly through the Blooom app at higher prices. This enables us to scale our impact on farmers’ lives exponentially.

The Subsidiary Model

head office & subsidiaries

  • Ground-up farmer development
  • Traditional, direct support for farmers
  • Reaching one-by-one
  • Linear scaling
  • Gradual change
  • Localized impact

The Co-Creation Model

tech platform & co-creators

  • Leveraging existing farmer infrastructures
  • Smart farming support through partner networks
  • Reaching millions in an instant
  • Exponential scaling
  • Disruptive change
  • Worldwide, systemic impact

To see detailed information about our social and environmental
impact please read our latest Sustainability Report.

Sustainable Development Goals

We are proud to contribute towards achieving 11 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

When smallholder farmers produce more nutritious food, using environmentally sustainable methods and earning fair pay, the world moves closer to the following goals:

Moreover, our community development programs have additional impact on:

Our farmers

In the end, what we do is about changing the course of individual lives. To see how Fairtrasa’s principles translate to action on the ground, and how it impacts farms and communities, please read our farmers’ stories below.


Strenght in the collective

“In this life, we’re a collective. You have to develop yourself, but also help others develop. You feel satisfied when you progress personally, but connecting it to other people and groups is even greater, especially when it’s people who really need help, who haven’t had the opportunity or education to achieve what they want to achieve.”

Together, we will advance

Isabela has a university degree and worked for 8 years as a professional agronomist helping small-scale farmers in her region. But a few years ago, she chose to leave her career to join a farmer association and begin farming her own land. “Our land is our gold,” she says.

A second life in banana farming

After decades of struggling as subsistences growers, Rafael and his neighbors reinvented themselves as thriving organic banana exporters. Fairtrasa helped them form a cooperative, learn organic banana farming techniques, and build their own packing station. Read about the impact this transformation has had on Rafael’s life.

Helping farmers develop themselves

Orlando is a veteran small-scale banana farmer in Salitral, Peru. Born in the regional capital, Piura, he moved with his parents to Salitral when he was a young boy, and like legions of other Peruvians at the time, worked as a farmer for a large landowner until the late 1960s.

Optimism as fertilizer

Dionisio, a small-scale farmer in northern Peru, recently transformed himself from a life-long rancher into an organic avocado grower. In his very first year of avocado production, he was the top producer in his valley. He says the secret to his success is his fundamental optimism and thoroughness regarding everything he sets his mind to.

Transitioning to organic

For most of his life as a farmer, Don Miguel grew “conventional” (non-certified-Organic) bananas. He heard about Fairtrasa Mexico’s activities in his region from his neighbor. Given his deep respect for his land, he was impressed by the concept of organic farming, which he immediately understood would be much better for the health of his farm, family, and customers.