Founded in 1975, the Cooperativa Producción Agroindustrial Manduvirá is located in the village of Arroyos y Esteros (Streams and Swamps) in southwest Paraguay. The aim of the cooperative is to support its members in marketing their sugarcane and other crops and to provide a range of services such as financial assistance, education programs, technical support and agricultural training. Of MANDUVIRA’s 1,358 members, 443 are female, and many of them hold prominent leadership positions in the organization. The centre of Arroyos y Esteros is located about 70 km from the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion. Around 22,000 people live in the town and in small rural communities spread throughout the district. The central region of Paraguay is subtropical, and heavy rains can make the dirt roads impassable for several days during the winter which complicates the harvest. In 2009 a severe drought through the summer meant a reduction of 60% in sugarcane yields, and a harsh frost in July reduced the amount of sugar present in the cane itself. In spite of the fact that the district is highly dependent on agriculture, the soil is fragile and its fertility is low. In fact, the degradation of the land, mainly due to overpopulation and a lack of land management programs, led to massive migration out of the region in the 1970s and 1980s. The cooperative carries out training programs with its producer members to improve the quality of the soil with organic inputs (manure, compost, ash etc) and good land management practices (such as crop rotation). Arroyos y Esteros lies on a major road connecting Asuncion with the north of Paraguay. Work to asphalt this road was completed in 2002, cutting the journey time to the capital by two thirds and opening up possibilities for the sale of produce in the capital city and for export. The new road also brings a constant stream of trucks and cars whose drivers are an important source of income and more diverse employment for the town. The electricity grid reached the town in 1986, although it remains unreliable and does not reach out to all the rural areas. Since becoming Fair Trade Certified™, MANDUVIRA has had enormous success, the greatest of which is that they have become a sugar exporter. Previously, MANDUVIRA’s members depended on a third-party sugar mill to buy their cane, process it to sugar and negotiate the price on the international market. Through Fair Trade connections and financial premiums, MANDUVIRA members now process their own sugar at the mill and the cooperative directly manages the exportation of its sugar. MANDUVIRA supports environmental stewardship by producing 100 percent organic sugarcane. The Fair Trade premium has enabled Manduvirá to establish various social and productive programs.
Number of Members:
Arroyos y Esteros