ASOANEI - Productores Agroecológicos Santa Marta y Perijá
More than 600 indigenous families of four ethnic groups –the Arhuacos, Koguis, Kankuamos and Wilmas – and farmers from the region make up the organization. They share one vision; to protect their forests, mountains, rivers and animals through sustainable programs and projects that conserve natural resources and improve the community’s standard of living and preservation of their ancestral heritage.
The organization claims Ms. Aurora María Izquierda as the founder, committed to the cause since the early 1980’s. At that time, Aurora was one of the first women of her generation to leave her isolated Arhuaca community to attain a higher education. Upon graduating from the university in the capital city, Bogotá, she returned to her community to help create a sustainable agriculture program.
ANEI prides itself on rooting its business values and practices in the traditional teachings of the Mamus, the spiritual leaders of the community. They work to maintain a democratic structure that supports their cultural traditions and upholds the rights of community members and social, economic and cultural partners. Despite some challenges, including the presence of armed groups in their territories and the need for more indigenous leadership, they aim to continue contributing to the world by providing healthy, sustainable products that care for both the environment and human beings. ASONEI was the first in the region to become certified organic and remains the standard-bearer for quality in the mountainous area.
Fair Trade has helped us organize ourselves. After some time being autonomous, it is strengthening us as a community and organization, primarily because it supports our members and the general community in improving their quality of life. ”
Aurora María Izquierdo Torres, ASOANEI
ASOANEI used Fair Trade Premiums to fund the construction of a sustainable coffee mill. This program is co-financed by the Departmental government of Cesar in an effort to build coffee processing facilities that will have a lesser impact on the environment. This project, for which ASOANEI dedicated $700 in premium funding, will allow the cooperative to implement more sustainable method for processing their coffees.
The cooperative has allocated $4,997 in the past year towards a Harvest Fund that will provide loans to cooperative members that bear the costs of harvesting coffee. The loan helps cooperative members pay for temporary worker and other related costs during the harvest season.
Organizational Training and Fair Trade Dialogues
ASOANEI dedicated $402 in Fair Trade premium funds in 2009 to organizational strengthening among of Fair Trade cooperatives throughout the region. The program was designed to connect groups of Fair Trade farmers throughout the coffee growing region and provide a forum for them to discuss their challenges and best practices in their experiences with Fair Trade. ASOANEI together with other cooperatives met in a series of exchanges to strategize on how to best deal with similar problems relating to a wide range of topics including market conditions and infrastructural problems. ASOANEI also arranged meetings of in communities for of women and children were organized to discuss the unique problems and issues of each subregion. This program has helped build relationships between small producer organizations.