Producer Profiles

COOCAFE - Cooperativa dos Cafeicultores da Região de Lajinha

COOCAFE was founded in 1979 in the city of Lajinha in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, to strengthen coffee planters of this region. Having faced many economic struggles throughout the years, farmers believed their cooperative was strong enough to keep its members’ spirits high. Today, the cooperative remains successful, determined and consistent in their product. It is located between the forest regions of Minas Gerais and the mountains of the Espírito Santo state. The climate is predominantly humid and the land sees a substantial amount of rainfall throughout the year. Most of the region is used for farming by families usually owning between five and ten hectares of land.

COOCAFE is one of several Brazilian producer groups participating in the Responsible Sourcing Partnership (RSP) project. The RSP project is a result of a partnership between USAID, Fair Trade USA, Walmart Stores, Inc. and SEBRAE-MG, designed to improve the quality of Brazilian coffee, increase market linkages and raise producer capacity. Through participation in the RSP project, COOCAFE has improved its infrastructure which has resulted in higher quality coffee, and has benefited from targeted training programs and increased contact with the U.S. coffee market.
 

Quotable

Since 1999 Joao Paula de Carvalho has been a member of Coopfam. He lives with his wife and his daughters in a house he just finished building. For 39 years, Joao and his wife lived in an old house on the outskirts of Poco Fundo where they raised 5 children and dreamt of moving to a better neighborhood and bigger house. His dream seemed unattainable given the condition of a small farmer in the conventional market. Joao joined Coopfam and feels satisfied now as he realizes his dream. He has a better house and bought a car, but more importantly, he and his family feel they are working for a better world with a great respect for the environment and natural farming. "I am happy to be able to realize this dream. Since I got married I've been dreaming of building my house," said Joao in his testimonial about Fair Trade. Joao also built a barn to store their coffee before bringing it to the coop. They have their own drying patio and bought a car, all possible with the money they receive by selling in the fair trade market.  

Joao Paula de Carvalho

I've been selling to the coop for 15 years now. After Fair Trade, things got a lot better. Fair trade has helped a lot. Before we didn't have have an agronomist and today we do. The coffee has improved a lot because the agronomist are here helping. It was only with the Fair Trade premium that we were able to contract these agronomists... The price is still pretty low for us, but our costs have lowered… the coffee sack project has helped a lot, it benefits everyone, not just a few.  

Conceção pez de Costa

Today Coocafe has over 4,000 members who are small producers. Fair Trade is very important for us. We received a large list from Fair Trade when we got certified in 2005. Today we have been Fair Trade certified for 5 years.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

Programs

Environmental Standards Implementation Program

COOCAFE is working to implement responsible environmental practices. It plans to hire technicians dedicated to the analysis of environmental needs who will work alongside cooperative members to implement new strategies. Technicians will pay particular attention to the Fair Trade environmental standards.

Grant for Coffee Sacks

COOCAFE subsidized the total costs of coffee sacks for its members. The cooperative gave sacks to each member in accordance with how much coffee they were selling through the cooperative.

Machinery Acquisition

Fair Trade funds will be used to purchase new equipment for the Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo warehouses. This will help increase quality and production.