See how our producer producers shine!
The adventure started a couple of months ago during a Farmer-to-Farmer visit in Sumatra. Jim Hottenroth accompanied by Florent Gout and Bill Harris from CoopCoffees were asked by members of the Permata Gayo Co-operative to support a kids’ soccer team.
Cooperative Coffees laments the loss of Lovis Masiga and his family. Mr. Masiga was a founding member of the Gumutindo Cooperative in Uganda. On August 28, 2011 a destructive mudslide carried away his house along with the nine lives inside of it... In the following letter, managing director of the cooperative Willington Wamayeye, describes the pain and the loss that members of the cooperative are now facing... We send our deepest condolences to the Gumutindo Cooperative.
On September 12, 2011 the life of Luis Carlos Mestizo Conda, president of our long standing Colombian producer partner Fondo Paez, was violently taken away in broad daylight. He was intercepted by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he made his way from the local bank in Santander de Quilchao to a machine warehouse with a bag with money to purchase new processing machinery for the association. Whether the attack was premeditated remains unknown.
Coffee prices on the NY"C" have been skyrocketing for months; producer cooperatives struggle to keep up with the competition on the ground; and "fair trade" has reached as challenging a moment as ever. In March, FLO responded with an increase to the required social and organic premiums to meet FLO cert criteria -- resulting in a new minimum price for organic and FLO fairtrade at $1.90/lb. As happy as we are to see FLO move in this positive direction, we have to wonder what kind of impact it will have on the ground. In the article below, Santiago Paz offers insight into the hard reality of a high-price coffee market, where traditional "fair trade" methods are being challenged daily and where the future of the movement has yet to be determined.
Jet-lag behind us, piles of snow built up around us, and lots of work to catch up on...January’s visit to Ethiopia seems a distant memory for the roasters, staff members, and kids who participated in the delegation. The two-week visit covered a lot of ground, beginning with a 10-kilometer run that marked the last stretch of the Run Across Ethiopia, and ending with a tour of the impressive new dry processing facilities of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union.
In September, 2010, Coop Coffees and its fair trade allies were BUSY with many important events. We would be remiss to not try and get as many producer voices at the table as possible! For the Fair Trade Futures Conference (Sept 10-12), six representatives from groups that we work with were able to attend and even speak on several panels. A week later, during our annual assembly, four representatives joined our discussions on the direction of fair trade and our mutual responsibilities in shaping that direction. During their visit to Just Coffee, Policarpio of FECAFEB (Bolivia), Blanca Rosa of CECOCAFEN (Nicaragua), and Santiago Paz of CEPICAFE (Peru) "captured the ears" of the Madison media and public for an interview on a community radio station.
In the wake of Hurricane Mitch, which hit Central America in 1998, and devastated communities in Nicaragua, GMAS ("Group of Women Saving in Solidarity") was founded in efforts towards recovery. Now, nearly 11 years later, the program is comprised of over 70 groups of women who invest into solidarity savings that provide loans for fellow members. Recently, Larry's Beans visited CECOCAFEN and learned about their campaign to screen women for breast cancer. This project has been a tremendous success thus far and continues to diversify its functions and strengthen the community.
A jog across the cradle of civilization to support childhood education
From January 15th to the 21st, several of Coop Coffees' members and producer partners convened in Peru for meetings and field visits during Coop Sol's 2010 annual assembly. Despite a grueling schedule (so much to do in one short week!), unexpected road blocks and run-ins with the police, everyone who participated came away with a better understanding of what fair trade truly is and should continue to be on the ground, with our partners, and within our coop.
Cooperative Coffees roasters and producer organizations from across Mexico gather together from Sept 4 - 11, 2009 under the umbrella of the Catholic Relief CAFE Livelihoods project in Oaxaca to discuss and experience first hand the challenges around producing consistently high quality coffee.
As part of the ongoing CRS project "CAFE Livelihoods," three representatives from Coop Coffees -- Bill Harris, Tripp Pomeroy of Cafe Campesino, and Chris Treter of Higher Grounds -- spent a week in Nicaragua facilitating and participating in workshops on market management and commercialization in the coffee industry. They worked alongside 5 different cooperatives which included CC producer partners. Below is a trip report by Chris Treter, roaster-member and participant in the CRS Project.
Every year, Rwanda's national coffee competition awards the country's best coffee with the prestigious "Cup of Excellence." This year, farmers from Coop Coffees' producer partner COOPAC received fantastic scores and collected enough money from the coffees' auction sales to purchase several cows, goats, and hoes for the winning groups!
The farmers of northern Peru have been fighting the damaging effects of global warming for a while. As we reported in an article earlier this year, Peru is the third most affected country in the world by climate change. The northern region of Piura is among the areas that are seeing the greatest effects. Massive deluges at unexpected times and temperatures that are consistently higher than the norm are evidence of the larger climatic disruptions taking place across the planet.
In an area of the world that has suffered the devastating effects of a brutal civil war and years of oppression and poverty, the opportunity to join local and international efforts in seeking ways to develop sustainably -- primarily through education -- is a promising prospect. In collaboration with members of the international community, local organizations and advisors in the Ixil Triangle of northern Guatemala have established the Ixil Foundation in response to the pressing need for further development in the region.
Last May, several of the Canadian members of Coop Coffees had the pleasure of hosting CEPICAFE founder and manager Santiago Paz during his North America visit for the annual SCAA conference. This year, he's back for one of the largest and most renowned food trade shows in the world: the SIAL Montreal. To our delight, Coop Coffees will benefit yet again from Santiago's visit to the Great North with visits to roaster members and allies.
If you ever need a Fair Trade shot of inspiration – take a look at what OROMIA Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union has been able to achieve in its short 10-year history! Their astounding amount of growth has inspired the coop to increase its capacity by providing helpful services to its members. From establishing its own bank to constructing an internal processing plant, OROMIA has come a long way since it began.
After visiting producer partner ACOES earlier in the year, one of Bongo Java's staff, Chris Durai felt compelled to help the members of that community make this Christmas extra special for their kids. Throwing together a local benefit concert, Chris managed to raise money to cover costs for what turned out to be a fantastic fiesta in El Salvador! Once again, we're reminded of the creativity and connection that Fair Trade enables. Read Chris' summary of the event below.
Tierramerica, a specialized information service produced by international news agency, IPS recently reported on the coffee market of the Dominican Republic. IPS correspondent Valeria Vilardo describes the country's severe poverty -- found principally in coffee-producing regions -- and introduces FEDECARES as offering small-scale producers a hopeful alternative. Read an excerpt below to see the impact our hard-working producer partner is making in the D.R.
In an article published in October, Francisco Mendoza of "El Nuevo Diario" (newspaper of Managua, Nicaragua) reports on CECOCAFEN's prize-winning efforts in the Women's Solidarity Project! In a contest in which coops from over 20 different countries participated and 50 different social development projects were presented, CoopCoffee's cooperative partner captured second place!
In the last decade, Colombia has witnessed a brutal war take place in the rural regions of the country where lawless paramilitaries and dangerously powerful drug lords ruthlessly rip through areas occupied by indigenous groups. The government has responded with retaliatory violence in which innocent bystanders fall victim to undiscriminating police officers. In the midst of it all, indigenous groups -- including Fondo Paez -- have attempted to redress historical problems of land mismanagement and ownership, hoping to regain the land that has so violently been taken from them.