COSURCA - Cooperativa Del Sur del Cauca
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.
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. ”
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. ”
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.
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.
Training Programs for Women
The co-op has designed coffee and intercropping training programs as well as a credit fund specifically for women in the community, who are encouraged to register into the co-op directly as members. A woman serves on the board of directors and several women participate as technicians.