The organization Asociacíon Bananos Ecológicos de la Línea Noroeste (BANELINO) was founded in 1996 when small Caribbean producers from Mao and Montecristi in the Dominican Republic decided to join their forces to create an organization that ensures the sale of bananas all over the year and at a fair price, which allows the producers and their families to live in dignity. The organization also offers the producers a fair contract and it constantly backs the community’s rural development.

Today BANELINO represents 369 Small Producers living in the Western Valley of the island, on the border with Haiti, one of the most deprived areas of the Country. BANELINO’s members are small producers managing on average less than 4.5 hectares land. In this organization the number of women producers has increased: they represent now 23% of the total members and play a key role in connecting Banelino with the local community.

BANELINO’s mission is to create economic, social and environmental progress for small producers and for their families, through a competitive, sustainable and healthy production, aiming at quality.

BANELINO succeeded in strengthening its position on the market thanks to its producers’ commitment. They manage to sell about 35,000 boxes of bananas per week, 80% containing organic bananas and 20% conventional bananas. Moreover, the organization obtained different certifications: Símbolo de Pequeños Productores, FLO, Orgánico y Global Gap.

Its operating facilities are divided in four departments: 1) Administration and Finances, 2) Production (Good Agricultural Practices and Good Manufacturing Practices), 3) Certifications (Internal Control and Supervisory System), 4) Social and Environmental Projects.

To obtain high quality bananas, the Production Department is backed by a person in charge of GAP and another one in charge of GMP, working together with the technical personnel including agronomists, supervisors and controllers. They help the producers by providing them with technical assistance, not only in order to maintain quality standards and competitiveness, but also to be in line with conservation practices and environmental improvement.

At the same time, the Certifications Department works to implement rules and regulations about certifications. It also counts on an Internal Control and Supervisory System; the supervisors assure the assessment process and strict monitoring to comply with internal rules and regulations.

The fourth department deals with BANELINO’s contribution to the development and the growth of its producers and workers, investing in their future and in the local community through public works, projects and programmes that aim at improving producers’ competitiveness (such as irrigation systems, packing plants, cableway etc.). Social development of producers, workers and of the community is also supported through different initiatives such as school sponsorship, salaries for teachers, purchasing computers, university scholarships, uniforms and school supplies, school transportation, preventive health-care programmes, a dispensary and a health centre for the community as well as for producers and workers, and a solidarity programme with Haiti. Moreover, the department deals with environmental care (training on organic management, waste management, production of organic fertilizer, environmental education programmes in schools and much more).

Banelino’s producers are proud of being a big family of small agricultural producers who are committed, active, united, loyal and who show solidarity when working together to create social, economic and environmental well-being for themselves and their families, workers and communities.

For all above reasons and even more, BANELINO is an example of a successful Small Producers’ Organization participating in the fair trade system! COCLA is a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fairtrade Producers (CLAC) and Fairtrade International.