Producer Profiles

UNIPASV - União de Pequenos Agricultores Santana da Vargem

União dos Pequenos Agricultores de Santana da Vargem (UNIPASV) is a coffee cooperative in the state of Minas Gerais in Southeastern Brazil. In order to overcome credit and loan barriers, the small-scale producers in the community united and formed a cooperative in 2000. UNIPASV earned Fair Trade certification in 2003 and made its first Fair Trade sale to the U.S. in 2004. In 2000, 80 percent of UNIPASV's members were sharecroppers. Through increased income from Fair Trade sales and participation in several programs sponsored by the Brazilian government, many of UNIPASV's members have been able to purchase land. Today 90 percent of UNIPASV's members are landowners!

UNIPASV producer Gilmar Donizete Oliveira is pictured in the photo on the left.

UNIPASV is one of fifteen Brazilian Fair Trade Certified™ producer groups that participated in the 2007-2010 Responsible Sourcing Partnership (RSP) project. The RSP project is a result of a partnership between USAID, TransFair USA, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and SEBRAE-MG designed to improve the quality of Brazilian coffee, increase market linkages and raise producer capacity. Through the partnership, UNIPASV participated in numerous trainings to improve coffee quality. The events and workshops included cooperative governance, business management, cupping and post-harvest best practices trainings.


“Since we started participating in Fair Trade, my family has become more united through working together on our small piece of land. My husband and I cultivate our coffee with lots of love. I help to gather the harvest and, together with my son, we turn the coffee on the drying patio. The most important thing for me is to be able to continue living on the farm; today this has become a privilege of the few. Fair Trade without a doubt has contributed to our ability to continue living here happily with a high quality of life. ” - Mara Mendonça Oliveira, UNIPASV Member  

Mara Mendonça Oliveira, UNIPASV Member


Home Improvement and Land Purchase

The additional income that farmers earn from Fair Trade coffee sales enables cooperatives members to improve their houses, including plumbing and other sanitation infrastructure. Many UNIPASV members have used the funds from Fair Trade Certified sales to become first time landowners.

Cooperative Donates School Supplies to Community Schools

UNIPASV has a long-standing history of donating books to their community schools, as well as notebooks and other materials to producers' children.

New Equipment and Technical Assistance to Improve Efficiency and Quality

UNIPASV recently completed construction of a new central office, equipped with phones, computers, electricity and a small kitchen so that the cooperative can operate more efficiently. Additionally, the cooperative invests in technical assistance courses so that farmers can improve the quality of their coffee and therefore charge higher prices.