Producer Profiles

RAOS - Cooperativa Mixta Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra

The Cooperativa Regional de Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra (RAOS) was formed in 1997 by a group of small farmers. They formed RAOS in response to the closing of the cooperative CARMOL that marketed conventional coffee produced in the area. After the closure, a large number of “coyotes,” or intermediaries, began to work in the area – prices dropped and there was no support from the government for coffee farming families.

A small group of farmers began training themselves and each other on growing coffee using non conventional techniques. This small group, now growing coffee organically was initially overlooked by others in the area. But they soon realized the great benefit non conventional techniques brought. Since 1997, the RAOS Cooperative has become an economic development model in the region of Marcala, Honduras. With over 200 members and growing, RAOS is considered the country’s pioneers of organic coffee. They play an important role in their communities, providing essential services through Fair Trade Premiums.
 

Programs

Education Program

Cooperativa RAOS invested 20 percent of their Fair Trade premium in education programs. They collaborated with a local radio station and education organization to educate members on Fair Trade standards and give young people the opportunity to access education, especially those too far from a school. Students can take classes through the radio, much like a distance learning program.

Infrastructure Investment

Cooperativa RAOS has invested 20 percent of their Fair Trade premium in improving their infrastructure. They purchased a wet mill and a dry mill to improve the quality and consistency of their coffee.