Producer Profiles

EL CORTIJO - Bananeras el Cortijo

El Cortijo is a banana plantation located in the Urabá region of Colombia. It was founded in 1986 by six farm workers who took out a bank loan to purchase the land. The plantation has survived long periods of violence and political instability, especially during the 1980's and 1990's. In 2007, El Cortijo became Fair Trade Certified™ to combat poverty and uplift farm workers. El Cortijo hopes to establish itself as an economically sustainable company and spread the wealth gained from Fair Trade premiums to its workers and community.
 

Quotable

This course helped us feel more useful and has given us more options for generating income for our families. The course has given us the chance to meet and share with other women who face similar life challenges.  

Vanesa Berrio, wife of an El Cortijo worker

By caring for the environment, we also improve our own lives. This project has made us feel useful. Through it, we use our time in a productive manner, have fun with our friends in a healthy way and care for our surroundings.  

Daniel Mosquera, student

If the organization had not given me the loan, two of my daughters would not have been able to study. I am thankful for the opportunity to educate my children.  

Hetor Dario Escobar, farm worker

Programs

Low Interest Housing Loans

Bananeras El Cortijo allocates a portion Fair Trade premiums specifically for housing loans, helping farm workers to purchase, build or improve their homes. Without Fair Trade premiums, it is more difficult for farm workers to access loans with such favorable credit terms.

Vocational Education Projects

Fair Trade premiums enabled Bananeras El Cortijo to award 24 workers and their family members with scholarships to continue their formal education through various technical courses. The organization was able to pay for a course on sewing kitchen linens (aprons, pot-holders, placemats, etc.) for 25 workers' spouses, providing new skills toward additional sources of income. Not only did this course promote women empowerment and raise their self esteems, it sparked new bonds and friendships.

Scholarsips for Workers and Community

Bananeras El Cortijo allocated almost 6 million Colombian pesos to an academic program, awarding 48 scholarships to its workers and families. Of the group, three workers received scholarships to complete a higher education, all of which are now attending college, including one worker's spouse. Forty four children also received assistance with school transportation fees, uniforms and meals.