Producer Profiles

CORA - Cañeros Orgánicos Asociados

Cañeros Orgánicos Asociados (CORA) was founded in 2007 to improve the quality of life for small-scale organic sugarcane producers of Paraguay. The members united to organize the production and commercialization of their crops and improve the overall condition and fertility of the land. Sugarcane production has been a staple in Paraguay's economy, dating back to 1910 when members began selling their cane to a large processor in Tebicuarymi. This initial project quickly expanded the agricultural frontier of the region.

However, dramatic increases in production costs and interest rates eventually made it unsustainable for small producers to invest in their own farms. With costs rising each year, many farmers were unable to continue producing significant harvests, leading to a decrease in their revenue and incomes. Communities quickly fell into poverty, eventually leading to the region’s depopulation. The area was soon forgotten by the Paraguayan government, and residents suffered many years with insufficient infrastructures, including a lack of schools and hospitals.

Through Fair Trade, an alliance of family cane farmers worked to take a stand against the poor working conditions, overcoming years of struggle to bring new hope to their communities. Since becoming Fair Trade Certified™, CORA has been able to address farmers’ needs by encouraging the development of local projects promoting self- management, democracy and equality. Members now have access to an operating office where they gather to proactively discuss progress and seek new alternatives to their challenges.

Focusing on agricultural development on a sustainable basis, the cooperative strives to promote the production and marketing of their high quality sugarcane with the help from Fair Trade’s links into international markets. With Fair Trade premium funds, CORA has provided farmers with lower-cost tractors and transportation services as well as new machinery to invest in rejuvenating their land, unproductive after nearly one hundred years of extensive use.

Today, CORA continues to strengthen their organization by investing in their dedicated members, offering direct cash payments for the farmers to expand and upgrade their farms, enabling them to implement sustainable agricultural practices and also purchase organic fertilizer when needed. Premium funds are also invested in capacity building programs and other infrastructure services.
 

Quotable

Thanks to Fair Trade, we are showing our community that organizations can work together and create a better future for their members.  

Hector Silva, Association Member

Programs

Sustainable Farming Methods

CORA used Fair Trade premiums to purchase organic fertilizer, green manure and seeds to help implement sustainable growing and harvesting practices. As a result, higher quality sugarcane is produced at no cost to Paraguay's eco-system, and it is often valued at higher price within international markets.

Additional Direct Payments for Producers

CORA agreed to disperse 30 percent of their Fair Trade premium to individual farmers for their personal investment, be it on their farms or families.

New Supplies for Administration

CORA purchased new office supplies to improve the cooperative’s administrative tasks and allow members to better develop the skills needed to increase business capacity. Empowering cooperatives to learn and apply new skills is an important component of Fair Trade as it enables farmers to negotiate directly with market buyers and demand a fair, living wage. With portions of CORA's revenues continuously being reinvested into the cooperative, administration is consistently improving their capacities, and farmers are more empowered to create change in their communities.