Meet Ever Hernandes Martinez, 39, as he poses for a photograph underneath his coffee production plant next to his home. Ever has been a coffee producer all his life and member of ANEI since 2012. He states: “I wanted to join because they produce organic coffee and because of the benefits the association provides – such as the stable coffee prices, the credits, and the social investment. The coffee production plant in my home was built with some money from the Fair Trade premium and with a loan I received. I ask all our buyers to please keep purchasing our coffee. It is organic, of the highest quality, and it helps us producers survive. I propose we use the premium to continue improving our roads, and then maybe a health clinic.”
ANEI is a Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative founded in 1995 and certified Fair Trade in 1998. It currently has roughly 600 members from 5 different ethnic groups. The word "anei" means delicious in the Arawak indigenous language.
Forming these cooperatives is how small farmers are able get around the high cost of becoming fair trade certified. These Fair Trade certified cooperatives also help them to deal with the ups and downs in the coffee bean market. In coffee, Fair Trade sets a minimum price to protect farmers from falling market prices.
Thanks to new and required minimum price lines on the beans, and large-scale corporations stepping in to help, Colombia is slowly improving living conditions for their farmers, making it a viable income for many.
Smallholder coffee farmers (those who farm just a few acres of land) have harnessed the power of cooperatives to gain a foothold in the marketplace, and to access networks of knowledge, training and funding. Each member is an owner of the cooperative, which is democratically controlled.
Today 97% of all Fair Trade Certified coffee is produced by cooperatives. The Colombian government is now committing to making the coffee business the nation’s business. Colombia has a goal now to be certified nationwide by 2027.