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

In addition to providing technical assistance, the coop also does very strong work to promote social programs and the environment. In addition to working with the farmer, we really work to educate his wife just as much and the young people who live in our community.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

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

Participating in the last SCAA conference in Minesota was a very important experience for us. We had the opportunity as a group of Brazilians to visit Sam's Club-Wal -Mart, where our coffee is being displayed and sold! It was such a rewarding experience to receive the feedback of a consumer who told us that they liked our coffee! This was a great moment for us.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

Programs

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.

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.

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.