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.
For the affiliates of COOCAFE, Fair Trade has been the difference between life and death; it is the core of each of our organizations. ”
Alvaro Gomez Ferreto, General Manager of COOCAFE
Fair Trade is a powerful democratic tool of cooperation for the development of people, families and communities in large parts of the world. ”
Jaime Salazar, President of Advisory Board
Fair Trade has meant development for 10 cooperatives in the last 20 years which has been very important to the poorest families. The clearest examples of the impact of Fair Trade are the two foundations Hijos del Campo and Café Forestal that COOCAFE created. These programs have allowed for a more balanced environment, addressed social issues and supported economic stability. Families have been the principal focus of the cooperative which is why we have created a platform of work with different levels to maintain its sustainability and continue to offer work for our community. ”
Leonardo Sanchez, Manager of Production Control
"Café Forestal" Foundation
The Café Forestal Foundation was created to promote and implement the conservation of natural resources. The foundation focus on protecting ecosystems, animal habitats, sustainable forest management, reforestation, researching conservation techniques and environmental education and trainings. It also supports small farmers who are transitioning towards organic coffee production.
As a second-tier organization, COOCAFE and its member organizations collectively decided to payout premiums to each first -tier organization so all belonging members can decide what to do with their fair trade funds. Due to the high coffee competition in Costa Rica, most organizations have opted to give each member their related premium funds (pertaining to the total production they brought in) at the end of each season to help motivate them for the next season. Since Costa Rica has relatively good infrastructure which is provided by its government, many first-tier organizations opt for paying out the premiums directly to the producer instead of creating community programs. This direct payment to producers has reduced individual poverty levels, as well as those of the overall communities belonging to COOCAFE.
Children of the Field Foundation
The Children of the Field Foundation (Fundación Hijos del Campo) was created in 1996 to promote educational development through leadership and social commitment. The foundation manages a scholarship fund for students in order to support their education in rural areas. So far, this program has benefited over 5,800 students and the numbers continue to grow. Since it began, 2,598 scholarships were awarded to high school and university level students. They also provide financial support to 240 schools in the area by helping purchase school materials, equipment or fund projects that improve their infrastructures.