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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

Participating in the last SCAA conference in Minesota was a very important experience for us. We had the opportunity as a group of Brazilians to visit Sam's Club-Wal -Mart, where our coffee is being displayed and sold! It was such a rewarding experience to receive the feedback of a consumer who told us that they liked our coffee! This was a great moment for us.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

Fair Trade has helped us with various things, with purchasing medicine and everything we need to purchase for the crops  

Irene Tavares Vega

At the first Fair Trade meeting held years ago, the Fair Trade representative and I were the only women present - other women thought this was men's work. Today, meetings are full of women.  

Conceção pez de Costa, member

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.

Garden project for environmental awareness

A garden project was developed in schools throughout the community to raise awareness about cooperativism, the environment and conscious consumption.