COOCAFE - Cooperativas Cafetaleras Guanacaste y Montes Oro
The member cooperatives are located all over Costa Rica, primarily in the provinces of Alajuela, Guanacaste and Puntarenas, the central and northern area of the country. Coffee is usually grown in the mountainous areas where temperatures are cooler than in the lowlands. Much of this region has volcanic soils with fertility excellent for coffee plants. Over 85 percent of this area is cultivated by small producers using shade grown techniques and other sustainable methods. COOCAFE uses solar panels and drying patios and other eco-friendly methods throughout the milling process.
Fair Trade certification has allowed COOCAFE's 2,634 coffee producers from nine member organizations to generate positive social and economic changes for themselves and their families. Producers now offer high-quality goods at a price that covers production costs and generates profits which are reinvested into the community. Cooperative representatives are occasionally also invited to participate in national meetings where farm affiliates unite to make important decisions.
About 15 years ago when the coffee crisis hit producers all over the world, Costa Rica did not escape this reality. We at COOPELLANOBONITO, a member of COOCAFE, were one of many groups affected by low prices. Thanks to God, COOCAFE and Fair Trade, we found support and were able to place about 40 percent of our coffee production in the market, which greatly helped cover our production, operation and maintenance costs. We were able to sustain ourselves with our land and not refer to migrating to big cities or other countries, which was typical of many small farmers during this difficult and desperate time. We were able to bring food to our homes, maintain our dignity, keep our children in school and buy clothes for our families.
Gerardo Arias, Producer COOPELLANOBONITO, COOCAFE
Coocafe uses their premium to reinvest in coffee plants for their members. Soil lacking nutrition, and old coffee trees add to low production levels during harvest season. By reinvesting in their crops, COOCAFE assures that their members can continue producing coffee and keep producers livelihoods enriched. Consistent coffee quality allows for better price stability in a constantly fluctuating market.
Fair Trade Premiums enabled COOCAFE members to finance the maintenance of a water sanitation system benefiting all members. Though the construction process was lengthy, the additions was long overdue and a necessary benefit for the community.