The Consortium of Coffee Growers Cooperatives of Guanacaste and Montes de Oro R.L. (COOCAFE R.L.) was the first coffee cooperative in Costa Rica to be Fair Trade TM. It was founded in 1988 and began exporting in 1989 under its own brand name. Production diversification efforts have enabled the cooperative to export other crops as well, such as yucca plants, as an alternative source of revenue. 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.
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