ASOBAGRI - Asociación Barillense de Agricultores
Since then, however, ASOBAGRI has grown and now counts on more than 900 members, all growing organic coffee, and over 200 more in transition organic cultivation. The cooperative is incredibly diverse representing 67 different Mayan communities. Of the 900 active members growing organic coffee, about 95 are women who produce and process their own. Cooperative members grow high-quality, shade-grown coffee using organic compost. Since Fair Trade Certification in 1999, ASOBAGRI has enjoyed significantly higher revenues. They are now certified Organic, Café Feminino and Bird Friendly.
Fair trade has to do with the increased opportunities that small farmers now have. Farmers that are members of our cooperative have access to markets in the USA and other parts of the world where they had never dreamed of having clients. Those farmers that are members and that sell their coffee as "fair trade" have more opportunities than non-member farmers who do not have access to the worldwide marketplace. This broadening of markets has brought a dramatic increase in the benefits that each member farmer receives from the sale of their fair trade coffee, which include educational and healthcare benefits among others. ”
Baltazar Francisco Miguel
Fair Trade allows small farmers to have greater access to the coffee market and opportunities for growth. Participating in Fair Trade signifies a high commitment to quality, productivity and the environment, as well as support for farmers and their families.
Neri Molina, ASOBAGRI
We are very thankful to ASOBAGRI who supported the extension and revitalization of our roads at a time the community needed most. This type of work is usually done by the government, but they were not doing anything and we felt incapable of fiximg the structures on our own.
Sebastian Lucas Pascual
Natural Disaster Fund
ASOBAGRI has reserved part of their premiums received for this fund that supports members if there has been a natural disaster. If a member's house, harvest or land has been affected by a natural disaster, then this fund provides the resources to help rebuild or fix the affected areas to help the member continue to produce quality coffee. The funds released to members from this program do not have to be repaid.
Using part of the premiums received from the sale of fair trade coffee, ASOBAGRI allots funds to each member to be used on funerary expenses, when the need were to arise. This fund allows the families of the deceased to have support to help cover the costs to bury their loved one.
Adequate health care is often a challenge for small producers as they usually do not have enough for emergencies. ASOBAGRI provides support to its members by paying for transportation to medical facilities. This is an invaluable service especially to those living in remote areas, without easy or inexpensive access to public transportation. ASOBAGRI also extends short term healthcare loans without interest to families when a medical emergency occurs. Alternatively, cooperative members must resort to money lenders or intermediaries for loans who often request a future guarantee of the family’s coffee harvest in exchange for the loan, or charge greater interest.