ASOBAGRI - Asociación Barillense de Agricultores
Since then, however, ASOBAGRI has grown and now counts on more than 900 members, all growing organic coffee, and over 200 more in transition organic cultivation. The cooperative is incredibly diverse representing 67 different Mayan communities. Of the 900 active members growing organic coffee, about 95 are women who produce and process their own. Cooperative members grow high-quality, shade-grown coffee using organic compost. Since Fair Trade Certification in 1999, ASOBAGRI has enjoyed significantly higher revenues. They are now certified Organic, Café Feminino and Bird Friendly.
Fair trade has to do with the increased opportunities that small farmers now have. Farmers that are members of our cooperative have access to markets in the USA and other parts of the world where they had never dreamed of having clients. Those farmers that are members and that sell their coffee as "fair trade" have more opportunities than non-member farmers who do not have access to the worldwide marketplace. This broadening of markets has brought a dramatic increase in the benefits that each member farmer receives from the sale of their fair trade coffee, which include educational and healthcare benefits among others. ”
Baltazar Francisco Miguel
We are very thankful to ASOBAGRI who supported the extension and revitalization of our roads at a time the community needed most. This type of work is usually done by the government, but they were not doing anything and we felt incapable of fiximg the structures on our own.
Sebastian Lucas Pascual
Other effects that fair trade has had on our cooperative and our communities have been the positive social benefits from the premiums received. Since there is a minimum price for the purchase of our fair trade coffee, we have been able to use these premium funds to create various social programs that not only improve our cooperative's operating abilities, but they have been used as tools for the positive development of our members' communities. ”
Baltazar Francisco Miguel
Natural Disaster Fund
ASOBAGRI has reserved part of their premiums received for this fund that supports members if there has been a natural disaster. If a member's house, harvest or land has been affected by a natural disaster, then this fund provides the resources to help rebuild or fix the affected areas to help the member continue to produce quality coffee. The funds released to members from this program do not have to be repaid.
Cooperative Life Insurance
A life-insurance policy is provided for the 21 employees and 11 members of the Board of Director of ASOBAGRI. This life insurance covers up to $25,000 for each person's death, or up to $50,000 for an accidental death. Although not all members are covered, this coverage has provided an extra sense of security for ASOBAGRI employees which has resulted in an increase in their quality of life and improvements in the overall productivity of the cooperative's services.
Productivity & Quality Fund
A line of credit has been established with the premiums from the sale of fair trade coffee to provide each member with funds for the improvement of their production capabilities and coffee quality. Low interest rates are given to members who seek funds to purchase fertilizers, tools and other resources to help improve their harvest yield and quality. The members who have borrowed funds do not have to repay until the next harvest season.