RAOS - Cooperativa Mixta Agricultores Orgánicos de la Sierra
A small group of farmers began training themselves and each other on growing coffee using non conventional techniques. This small group, now growing coffee organically was initially overlooked by others in the area. But they soon realized the great benefit non conventional techniques brought. Since 1997, the RAOS Cooperative has become an economic development model in the region of Marcala, Honduras. With over 200 members and growing, RAOS is considered the country’s pioneers of organic coffee. They play an important role in their communities, providing essential services through Fair Trade Premiums.
Cooperativa RAOS has grown thanks to Fair Trade –participation in the market has increased and this helps us become financially stable. Access to the Fair Trade market and organic production process has become a life changing experience – one the men and women of RAOS are committed to for life. It has strengthened our knowledge, training and farming practices and maximized the benefits for members. The social premium and the higher price for our better quality coffee has enabled us to invest in loan programs, educational programs, environmental protection programs, technical assistance, gender equality programs and agroturism initiatives. ”
Gladis Marleny Chavez Cubas, Treasurer of Raos
Before becoming involved with Cooperativa RAOS, I was in a very difficult position. I was a conventional coffee producer when the prices of coffee plummeted. The agricultural inputs were so expensive we couldn’t maintain our farms. The local bank wanted to take my land because the previous cooperative COMARCA, where I had been a member, folded and left me indebted. Because I was affiliated with the cooperative they wanted to take my land.
I think Fair Trade is a wonderful system that has united small producers from different regions, locally and internationally. Before, each person was stuck in their place doing what they considered correct and enduring different crisis. Fair Trade has opened our eyes. It has united us and this is good because we are able to exchange our experiences. This makes us stronger each day and helps us face the challenges the globalized economy poses us. ”
Gladis Marleny Chavez Cubas, Treasurer
Cooperativa RAOS voted to invest 60 percent of their premium one year in a loan program. The loans are made available to members for use in diversifying their crops, for example, to increase their food security. Now, many producer members grow fruit, vegetables, honey and milk –they are less dependent on coffee even though this is still the main crop for most.
Cooperativa RAOS has invested 20 percent of their Fair Trade premium one year in improving their infrastructure. They purchased a wet mill and a dry mill to improve the quality and consistency of their coffee.
Cooperativa RAOS has invested 20 percent of their Fair Trade premium in improving their infrastructure. They purchased a wet mill and a dry mill to improve the quality and consistency of their coffee.