Don Miguel is a banana farmer in the Mexican state of Michoacán. For most of his life as a farmer, he grew “conventional” (non-certified-Organic) bananas and sold them on local markets for low prices. He didn’t have the market access or logistical expertise to export his product to higher-paying international customers. But with six children and one grandchild, Don Miguel was seeking a way to grow his business and provide a better future for his family.
About four years ago, Don Miguel heard his neighbors talking about Fairtrasa Mexico. Since its founding in Michoacán in 2005, the company had worked closely with small-scale producers of avocado, lime, and mango in Don Miguel’s region, helping many of them grow into certified Organic producers and exporters. Given his deep respect for his land, Don Miguel was impressed by the concept of organic farming, which he immediately understood would be much better for the health of his farm, his family, and his customers. He wanted to follow the same development path as his neighbors. He saw a new future.
“I wanted my business to be more competitive but without damaging the environment,” Don Miguel says. “Suddenly, I saw that it was possible.”
In 2013, Don Miguel knocked on the door of Fairtrasa Mexico’s office to inquire about working with the company. His first meeting was with the company’s director, Francis Mendez. Francis encouraged Don Miguel to seek Organic certification in order to increase the value of his product on international markets, and offered him training in organic farming techniques. Don Miguel and Francis made an agreement: If he converted to certified Organic production, Fairtrasa would help him export his product.
Over the next two years, Fairtrasa invested in Don Miguel’s farm and helped him become a certified-Organic banana producer. The Fairtrasa Mexico team provided Don Miguel with training in organic farming techniques, support in obtaining and managing Organic and Global Gap certifications, quality-control training, and logistical assistance. Throughout the process, the Fairtrasa Mexico team received guidance from the Fairtrasa Peru team and its director, Jim Ruiz, who are experts in banana farmer development.
In June 2016, Don Miguel and Fairtrasa Mexico shipped their first container of certified Organic bananas to England. The bananas were received in July by Fairtrasa Europe, who are distributing them to the UK market.
Don Miguel says he is excited about the success of the first container and optimistic about his family’s future.
“I decided to join Fairtrasa to realize my dream of being a producer and exporter of Organic bananas. Now, thanks to Fairtrasa, this dream has become a reality. I’ve learned that I can be competitive without damaging the environment. My business has already doubled in size since I started working with Fairtrasa, and I can now send my children to high school.”