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

I've been selling to the coop for 15 years now. After Fair Trade, things got a lot better. Fair trade has helped a lot. Before we didn't have have an agronomist and today we do. The coffee has improved a lot because the agronomist are here helping. It was only with the Fair Trade premium that we were able to contract these agronomists... The price is still pretty low for us, but our costs have lowered… the coffee sack project has helped a lot, it benefits everyone, not just a few.  

Conceção pez de Costa

I hope the US consumer likes our product. We choose to make a good and healthy product. We like good things and want others to enjoy good things too.  

Irene Tavares Vega, member

Today Coocafe has over 4,000 members who are small producers. Fair Trade is very important for us. We received a large list from Fair Trade when we got certified in 2005. Today we have been Fair Trade certified for 5 years.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

Programs

6 agricultralists

The cooperative elected to invest their Fair Trade social premium in contracting 6 agriculturalists to provide consulting assistance to members looking to improve the quality of their crops. The cooperative also funded 6 motorcycles for the technical assistants.

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.

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.