( Couirtesy Driscoll's )

Driscoll’s is seeing increases in its Baja California, Mexico, Fair Trade program, with a 14% hike in acreage in 2019 and a goal to have all production certified by the end of the year.

The expansion means Driscoll’s is adding more independent growers to the program and increasing retail distribution and sales of Fair Trade USA berries.

“With more than 6,500 workers employed by Fair Trade Certified farms, our goal is to amplify the positive impact they can have in their local communities,” Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll’s of the Americas, said in a news release. “Expanding our Fair Trade program to the entire region means more opportunities for farm workers and their families to participate in and benefit from community-led improvement projects. It also introduces more opportunities for our consumers to make a difference with each purchase.”

Money raised by the sale of each Fair Trade product goes into a Community Development Fund, and farm workers in exporting countries choose projects based on community needs.

The Driscoll’s Fair Trade program has funded three community health fairs in Baja California, and purchased 1,700 backpacks with school supplies for students, according to the release.

Larger projects will be possible as more acreage is brought into the Fair Trade program.

“I’m imagining a very large project, not only one that would impact all the workers here, but that would help all the other companies see what Fair Trade really does,” Saidel Hernandez, Fair Trade Committee president and harvest crew leader, said in the release. “Something that will leave a mark, a ‘plasmado,’ that’s my hope for the future.”