The Federación de Caficultores Exportadores de Bolivia (FECAFEB) coffee cooperative was founded in 1991 with 11 member organizations from the Caranavi province, situated east of Lake Titicaca in the Bolivian Altiplano. FECAFEB achieved Fair Trade certification in 2008 to compete with private enterprises that dominated 95 percent of exports from the La Paz coffee-growing zone. Today, FECAFEB has 30 member organizations. As a second grade organization, FECAFEB commercializes product for smaller first grade organizations, combining resources and marketing efforts for a large group of farmers. All the first grade organizations, whose individual production is very small, market and sell 100 percent of their coffee through FECAFEB. In turn, FECAFEB provides environmental training and quality improvement assistance to the first grade cooperatives, as well as affordable financing for individual producers. FECAFEB’s Fair Trade Certified™ members cultivate a total area of 624 hectares. Individual farms average between 5 to 20 hectares in size. Out of 340,779 lbs of Fair Trade Certified coffee produced, 290,670 lbs (85 percent) are also certified organic. FECAFEB encourages all its members to seek organic and Fair Trade certifications; in addition, FECAFEB encourages local family farmers to join the organization to keep growing the coffee supply they can offer to the international market. FECAFEB members understand their biggest challenge is market access due to their individually small production levels. As one of the Western hemisphere’s poorest countries, Bolivian coffee farming communities understand that international sales are key to bringing more income into their local economies. Through FECAFEB, they hope to build direct relationships with buyers in the international market and decrease unemployment levels in the region through coffee production. Fair Trade premiums have enabled FECAFEB members to establish various social and production programs.
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