When the coffee cooperative La Cooperativa Regional de las y los Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra (RAOS) began using organic farming techniques, the decision was viewed as crazy by others in the region. Since then, the organization has become known in Honduras as a pioneer of organic coffee and has grown from 20 to over 200 farmers. Today, the cooperative plays an important role in their community, using Fair Trade earnings to provide essential services:
Loan Program: The RAOS cooperative offers loans to their members so they can produce more food crops for consumption and be less dependent on coffee revenues.
Education: The cooperative collaborates with a local radio station to educate members on Fair Trade standards and give young people the opportunity to take classes via the radio if they don’t live close to a school.
Infrastructure Improvements: RAOS purchased a wet mill and a dry mill to improve the quality of their coffee.
The cooperative also invests Fair Trade earnings into farmer trainings, gender equality programs, agro-tourism, and environmental protection initiatives.
“Access to the Fair Trade market and the organic production process has become a life-changing experience and one that the men and women of the RAOS Cooperative are committed to for life.” - Gladis Marleny Chávez Cubas, RAOS Treasurer (pictured above)
As you know, strict environmental criteria are core to the Fair Trade standards, which include protecting fragile ecosystems and the elimination of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and harsh agro-chemicals. Although organic certification is not required by Fair Trade, approximately 60 percent of Fair Trade products are also certified organic.
With your help, Fair Trade USA can continue supporting the environmental efforts of cooperatives like RAOS. Please join us by making a tax-deductible donation today . Or, browse through our Gifts of Fairness  and give the gift of Fair Trade to a loved one this holiday season.
“What I have accomplished with Fair Trade is one of the best inheritances I can offer my children. Thanks to Fair Trade, I receive a good price for my coffee and I have a diversified farm." - José Toribio Vásquez, RAOS cooperative member (pictured left)