Cerro Azul - Asoc. Pequeños Productores Bananeros Cerro Azul
Cerro Azul places particular emphasis on the training and education of members in all aspects of the business, from farming techniques and labor safety to marketing plans and rules of the company. They believe that education is empowerment, and empowerment will lead to the production of excellent bananas and a strong, unified cooperative. For example, technical assistance programs train and advise producers about land rehabilitation and conservation, soil and bio-fertilizers, and production techniques to maximize both quality and quantity.
The association also addresses the challenges that small producers face in a sector dominated by large, multinational companies. In order to compete more equitably with the massive, conventionally-producing plantations, Cerro Azul used Fair Trade Premiums to construct a collection center in which the small producers can assemble their products. Selling their products as a team allows them to stand united against the larger farms in an otherwise ruthless marketplace.
Cerro Azul also allocates money from premiums for school fees, building playgrounds, and celebration. For example, they host an anniversary party to recognize their accomplishments each year, during which members and their families come together to commemorate their hard work, progress, and achievements with music and dance, and “the common denominator of this party is brotherhood.” Fair Trade USA recognizes Cerro Azul for their inclusive, democratic spirit and their smart investments in the future of both their business and their community.
We've developed a plot of land and constructed an office, a processing center and warehouses all of which have helped us improve our producer services; the improvements have also helped us take more care in shipments of of the fruit to our customers. ”
Cerro Azul Member
The technical assistance has been one of the most invested upon areas and this investment has resulted in high quality fruit ”
Cerro Azul Member
Premium was invested in new members' farms to help them fall in with Organic, Globalgap, and Fair Trade certifications.
A total of 100 producers (60 Organic, 40 Conventional) received individualized soil analyses which describes the needs of each farm. These different needs then create a fertilization and nutrition plan which improve the productivity of the land and plants without degrading the soil.
Social and Community Support
Members' children were able to receive academic scholarships to help fund thier education. In 2011, 95 members were also given $150.00 to at least enroll their children in the approaching academic year.