Fair Trade USA Announces New Winners of Cooperative Small Grants Program

Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative in Honduras Receives Funding to Invest in Sustainable Soil Regeneration and Water Initiatives

12/12/2012 - 2:28 PM

We’re proud to announce the winner of our Cooperative Small Grants Program’s second round, which offers Fair Trade Certified™ cooperatives access to funding for specific capacity-building projects. The winner, COMSA from Honduras, was awarded $ 19,990 to improve their environmental sustainability efforts and their organic program.

This Grant Program is part of our Co-op Link initiative, which connects and supports organizations throughout the supply chain to maximize the benefits of Fair Trade for small-scale farmers around the world.

“We are deeply proud to announce COMSA as a winner of our Grants Program,” said Jennifer Gallegos, Director of Coffee for Fair Trade USA. “Honduras is one of the fastest growing Fair Trade coffee origins; it holds tremendous potential to become a leader in sustainable coffee. We are honored to support COMSA on their Fair Trade journey, and believe that access to short term investments in quality and productivity will help them unlock this potential.”

About the Grant Winner

COMSA, Honduras

Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. de C.V. (COMSA), is a Honduran coffee cooperative located high in the Comayagua Mountains of La Paz. COMSA was founded in 2001 with support from the Rural Business Development Foundation (FUNDER). It began with a group of 69 small Honduran producers interested in selling their high quality coffee to markets for a fair price. Today, COMSA’s 614 members, 27% of which are women, are pioneers in Honduran organic coffee cultivation.

COMSA was awarded $ 19,990 for its winning project titled Generando vida a los suelos, producimos con responsabilidad," or “Generating life to our soils, we produce with responsibility.” As the name suggests, this project aims to regenerate and reduce contamination in producers’ land, minimize production costs, and increase the quality of their specialty coffee.  Specific projects include:

  • Offering extensive training for cooperative members on sustainable practices
  • Improving on old and implementing new organic biotechnologies in their production
  • Implementing a system to better collect and manage fresh water supplies
  • Hiring a technician to implement and maintain the water project
  • Reusing coffee byproducts for natural low-cost soil nutrition
“We are very happy to hear this news. We’ve faced many challenges this harvest including plant disease and difficulties finding financing opportunities, which have incremented our costs of production,” said Sonia Vasquez, Organic Production and Certification Coordinator of COMSA. “This project will directly help more of our cooperative members produce in a more low cost and environmentally sustainable way. We are thrilled to receive these funds and we will work diligently in the implementation of this project.”

Sonia Vasquez also explained how they self-identified the need for these funds for the long-term development of their organic program. The project resulted from experiments COMSA began two years ago by select producers seeking to improve their soil nutrition. They purchased containers to collect fresh water and reused the byproducts of their coffee mixed with other natural materials such as mineral-rich rocks. Sonia explained, “Once we saw the positive results and started training and educating producers, we understood there would be great potential if we had the resources. This is what we will do with the funds from Fair Trade USA.”

The project is set to impact 80 small coffee farmers directly, 15 of which are women, all owning between 1 and 10 hectares of land from 27 municipalities of Marcala, Honduras. On a larger scale, COMSA hopes their organic practices and environmental stewardship will help spread awareness and influence others on the benefits of organic production, creating an even larger impact on their community and environment. 

Click here to learn about two winners of the first round, APROCASSI from Peru, and ASOPROKAN from Colombia, who used their funds to invest in crop productivity and quality management. To read more about the goals of our Cooperative Small Grants Program and the Grant Selection Process please click here.

12/12/2012 - 2:28 PM
12/12/2012 - 11:53 AM