Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sweet Power of Cooperatives: Paving the Way for a flourishing organic export business (56)

Post by Nadejda Loumbeva

Susanne Boetekers, Monica Berreishem and Indira Franco from Fairtrade International together with Luis Dario Ruiz Diaz from the Manduvira Cooperative discussed the case of the Manduvira Cooperative in Paraguay .

Susanne, Monica and Indira first gave an introduction to Fairtrade and how it supports small producers. Generally, Fairtrade is a partnership between consumers, producers, producer networks and labelling/certification organisations. It is there to help small producers be better off socially, economically and environmentally. Because small producers are often at most disadvantage when trading their goods on local and international markets, Fairtrade cooperatives are particularly helpful by getting them to join forces, get support from organisations like Fairtrade International and support one another, this way building sustainable agriculture capacity.

Then, Mr Luis Diaz from The Manduvira Cooperative told the Cooperative story. It started off as an initiative of teachers in the village of Arroyos y Esteros in Paraguay to support and empower small producers of sugar and sugar cane. Sadly, single producers often have no power to negotiate a fair price for their product and this makes them easy to exploit. It took a lot of time and support from Fairtrade International to get the Manduvira Cooperative to work as intended. Currently, the Cooperative is a shining example of how a small community can export its produce at its own price, without interfacing with intermediaries in the process. Members of the Cooperative receive a premium which enables them to improve the quality of their produce and livelihoods. The Cooperative also sends member children to school. Members get support from the Cooperative in exchange of abiding by organic and sustainable agriculture standards. 'Although a small organisation, we think big' Mr Luis Diaz said at the session.

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