CAÑERA DEL SUR - Asociación Agrícola Cañera del Sur
Conventionally in Paraguay, individual sugarcane farmers have little bargaining power, and no access to price and market information, resulting in low prices that fail to provide sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families. In 1999, Cañera del Sur became Fair Trade Certified™, which has empowered the farmers to receive better prices, as well as Fair Trade premiums for investment in community projects. In addition to sugarcane, the farmers of Cañera del Sur also tend livestock and fish farms, as well as grow self-consumption crops such as corn, yucca, beans, peanuts, melons, citrus, cotton and citrus.
Today, Cañera del Sur's vision is to produce their sugar product for sale on the local market, so they can control the full production cycle and gain the value added by processing their cane. The Fair Trade premium has enabled Asociación Agrícola Cañera del Sur to establish various social and productive programs. The organization orients producers to the market by providing training and financing, as well as logistical, technical and economic support. Health care is also provided; two days a week the organization offers free dental care for cooperative members and subsidized care for community members. The organization also supports local schools with free health testing for the whole community.
Cañera del Sur invests in the local environment too, by utilizing green fertilizers and practicing erosion control. The cooperative is certified organic and has organized educational trainings on organic and environmental practices. The organization invested in a tree nursery that started out primarily growing fruit trees and now is home to native trees used for reforestation. Cañera del Sur gives the trees to its cooperative members as a service to prevent water and wind erosion.
The organization has set up an on-site grocery store with produce sourced from some of its very own members. The local community can purchase food at affordable prices and members can finance food by subtracting its cost from their payment for sugarcane. With its community development premiums, Cañera del Sur has also invested in a radio station to facilitate communication, news and education amongst its members.
I have always been a cane grower. I have been a member of Cañera del Sur since it was created. In my opinion, the main impact of our Fair Trade organization is the support that it provides to members during the harvest. When we needed to deliver our products to the sugar mill which is 90 km away, Cañera del Sur bought four lory trucks to transport cane to the mill for a subsidized cost. For example, private contractors charge 7.30 USD per tonne of cane. Cañera del Sur charges a 115 USD flat fee for up to 35 tonnes of cane. So if we are able to load the truck fully, we are paying only 3.30 USD per tonne. ”
Reinaldo Ayala, small producer
I became a member of Cañera del Sur in 2007. As small growers, it is more convenient to join an organization to get access to services and better trade conditions vis-à-vis the sugar mill. For me, the main impact of Cañera del Sur being Fair Trade Certified™ is that we can obtain financing at 12 percent per year interest rates to bear harvest costs. Harvest time is very critical in terms of cash flow as we need to spend nearly 40 percent in order to deliver our produce to the mill. No other bank, cooperative or organization provides loans for small producers in the region. There are some options in the main city, Villarrica, but the interest rates are 27 percent per year. ”
Gregorio Bareiro, small producer
Transport and Processing Equipment
Cañera del Sur paid for one of their trucks to be repaired and was able to invest in additional tractors, trucks and processing equipment.
Dental and Health Care
Cañera del Sur provides free dental care for cooperative members and subsidized care for community members. The organization provides free health testing for the whole community.