Berries Mesopotámico, the first Fairtrade-certified blueberry farm in Argentina!
One of our producer services team, Julie Francoeur, recently went on a field trip to Argentina – and a berry enlightening experience it was too!
'Arándanos' (that’s Spanish for blueberries), are a newcomer to Argentina’s agriculture. They were introduced as a diversification attempt in the early 2000s, following the large financial crisis that rocked the country, and are grown mainly for export. But this new fruit alone won’t necessarily improve farmers and workers’ fortunes. So Fundacion Fortalecer, Fairtrade International’s partner in Argentina, has spent two years raising awareness about Fairtrade and helping producers get certified. The hard work is now bearing fruit: Berries Mesopotámico is the first Argentinian blueberry farm to achieve Fairtrade status!
Berries Mesopotámico is a family owned farm, situated in a region of fertile lands close to the Uruguay River. They are certified under the Hired Labour standard and throughout the year the farm has only one employee, Sergio Valenzuela, the trusted man in charge. But when harvest comes in October-November they need over a hundred workers, providing much needed employment. The fruit-pickers and packers come from all over the region and as far away as the Chaco region.
Julie Francoeur (Liaison Officer/FLO), with three of the seasonal employees working in the packing station. © Jean-Sébastien Lévesque.
For Sergio and the dozens of seasonal workers, Fairtrade certification means complete recognition of their workers’ rights and the added bonus of Fairtrade Premium to invest in projects that they will choose. Better local transportation and improved health benefits are some of the ideas the farm workers of the farm are considering.
‘I hope the farm manages to sell a big part of the blueberries as Fairtrade, so that we can work as a group of workers and find solutions to some of our problems using the Fairtrade Premium’ said Sergio.
To learn more about Berries Mesopotamico check out their website: www.berriesmesop.com.ar
To know more about Fundacion Fortalecer’s work in Argentina: www.fortalecer.com.ar