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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

Before we didn't have an agronomist and today we do. This has helped improve the quality of our coffee substantially. It was only with the Fair Trade premium that we were able to contract these agronomists.  

Conceção pez de Costa, member

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.

Technical assistance for development

Coocafé invests an average of $350,000 in courses, lectures and technical assistance to enhance the technological development of member’s farms and improve product quality.

Educate women on coffee cultivation

The cooperative has established a regular meeting for the women of the community. These meetings provide women with courses on coffee cultivation, as well as alternative sources of income for their families.

Environmental Standards Implementation Program

COOCAFE is working to implement responsible environmental practices. It plans to hire technicians dedicated to the analysis of environmental needs who will work alongside cooperative members to implement new strategies. Technicians will pay particular attention to the Fair Trade environmental standards.