Producer Profiles

COSURCA - Cooperativa Del Sur del Cauca

Empresa Cooperativa del Sur del Cauca (COSURCA) is composed of 14 farmer associations and coffee cooperatives from four municipalities in Cauca, a mountainous province of southwestern Colombia. Founded in 1993, this organization has been seriously affected by armed extremist groups who value the area for its proximity to the jungle and abundant natural resources. Many farmers in the area have converted their coffee crops to more profitable, illegal ones while others have been threatened and displaced by armed groups. In contrast, Fair Trade Certified since 2001, COSURCA’s members have a strong organization and financial stability. Subsequently, COSURCA provides an important model for sustainable development in the region.

In spring 2005, 57 COSURCA members' farms were accidentally fumigated as part of a U.S.-funded cocaine eradication project called "Plan Colombia." Much of the farmers' corn and bean crops were devastated. Pineapple, banana, avocado and coffee plants were seriously affected. In addition, the spraying contaminated local waterways, degraded the soil and continues to threaten the biodiversity of the area. Perhaps most importantly for the farmers, the affected coffee farms lost their organic certification and must now wait years to reestablish it.
 

Quotable

Fair Trade has been very important for our organization because through commercialization and production of Fair Trade certified products, we have been able to improve our organization and provide services for members, especially through loans, food security projects and improved processing.  

Eivar Meneses

Since our organization gained Fair Trade certification, we have been able to invervene in the coffee production, allowing more fair conditions with regards to price and weight in the purchase of the coffee.  

Alcides Martinez

Programs

Credit Program for Farmers

COSURCA offers credit to members for a variety of projects, including marketing and processing coffee, production improvements, food security and planting and marketing papaya and other fruits. The credit funds are run by the organization and producers, and all loans are paid annually with Fair Trade premiums.

Credit program

COSURCA offers a rotating credit fund for production, commercialization and coffee quality improvement. There is also a credit fund that supports fruit cultivation and commercialization on farms, specifically papaya and lulo. In addition, members receive permanent support with financial and accounting services to help strengthen financial management, particularly in regards to accounting diligence and bookkeeping. This technical support is provided through training workshops, site visits, accounting audits and written recommendations.

Various technical training programs

The association implemented technical assistance programs available to its members through farm visits and annual training programs for producers, promoters and technicans. This project was co-financed by national and international entities and Fair Trade revenue. The co-op teaches organic production methods, crop diversification, soil management and conservation, and shade grown farming techniques. COSURCA has a technical team of professionals, technicians and rural promoters to provide technical assistance. COSURCA has made improvements to coffee processing methods.