Producer Profiles

COOCAFE - Cooperativa dos Cafeicultores da Região de Lajinha

COOCAFE was founded in 1979 in the city of Lajinha in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, to strengthen coffee planters of this region. Having faced many economic struggles throughout the years, farmers believed their cooperative was strong enough to keep its members’ spirits high. Today, the cooperative remains successful, determined and consistent in their product. It is located between the forest regions of Minas Gerais and the mountains of the Espírito Santo state. The climate is predominantly humid and the land sees a substantial amount of rainfall throughout the year. Most of the region is used for farming by families usually owning between five and ten hectares of land.

COOCAFE is one of several Brazilian producer groups participating in the Responsible Sourcing Partnership (RSP) project. The RSP project is a result of a partnership between USAID, Fair Trade USA, Walmart Stores, Inc. and SEBRAE-MG, designed to improve the quality of Brazilian coffee, increase market linkages and raise producer capacity. Through participation in the RSP project, COOCAFE has improved its infrastructure which has resulted in higher quality coffee, and has benefited from targeted training programs and increased contact with the U.S. coffee market.
 

Quotable

It was such a rewarding experience to hear the feedback from a consumer. They told us they liked our coffee - this was such a great moment!  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, president

When the first Fair Trade meeting was held years ago, myself and the Fair Trade representative were the only women present at the meeting. The other women thought it was men's work. Today the meetings are full of women.

I held the position of Fiscal advisor for Coocafe for several years, I learned so much! I didn't earn any money for that work, but I gained a lot of good experience. It was very good. Today I participate in all of the women's association meetings. The room is always packed, today all the women want to attend.

Before the women thought they didn't have value for the cooperative, today they realize that they do.  

Conceção pez de Costa, 1st woman Fiscal Advisor

Since 1999 Joao Paula de Carvalho has been a member of Coopfam. He lives with his wife and his daughters in a house he just finished building. For 39 years, Joao and his wife lived in an old house on the outskirts of Poco Fundo where they raised 5 children and dreamt of moving to a better neighborhood and bigger house. His dream seemed unattainable given the condition of a small farmer in the conventional market. Joao joined Coopfam and feels satisfied now as he realizes his dream. He has a better house and bought a car, but more importantly, he and his family feel they are working for a better world with a great respect for the environment and natural farming. "I am happy to be able to realize this dream. Since I got married I've been dreaming of building my house," said Joao in his testimonial about Fair Trade. Joao also built a barn to store their coffee before bringing it to the coop. They have their own drying patio and bought a car, all possible with the money they receive by selling in the fair trade market.  

Joao Paula de Carvalho

Programs

Garden project for environmental awareness

A garden project was developed in schools throughout the community to raise awareness about cooperativism, the environment and conscious consumption.

Rural schools built for further education

Coocafé built rural schools throughout the region, providing basic education to an average of 1,000 children each year.

Machinery Acquisition

Fair Trade funds will be used to purchase new equipment for the Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo warehouses. This will help increase quality and production.