Paraguay: Organic Sugars
Carlos Cabral has been a member of Cañeros del Sur for 7 years and became Fair Trade Certified in 2004.
Carlos (30) lives at the farm with his mother Griselda (55) and his brother Reinaldo (35). Carlos joined FT in 2004 and the first year he was able to deliver 100 MT of cane to the mill. In 2007 he harvested 400 MT. He is currently maintaining a 10-acre cane farm.
Cañeros del Sur decided to use FT premium to buy tractors and other equipment to keep the roads in good condition, to work the soil, and to transport the cane to the mill. Carlos and other growers find this to be the main reason of their current economic progress. This year he is also using a low interest loan to buy fertilizer.
In Carlos's rural community nearly three out of five families has more than one member living and working in Spain, US or Argentina. Carlos said, " We do not think of migrating to other countries or to the cities. Thanks to FT we can work and progress in our homeland."
Carlos's mother Griselda is a school teacher. She says, "In 2002 we had 40 children in our first grade class; now we have 15 attending. Many people had to migrate, but the ones who could stay are one way or another affiliated with the FT program."
Active co-op members: 933
Average farm size: 2-5 hectares (~5-12 acres)
Premiums invested in:
Crop diversification, biodiversity projects and environmental education: Planted citrus trees to help diversify economic opportunities and the women of the coop planted and tend a medicinal garden, teaching the traditional cures to new generations.
Improved communication: Installed a radio station that broadcasts to the entire community (it’s especially useful for tracking cane prices, harvests, road conditions and weather)
Community & farm infrastructure: Invested in roads and bridge repairs that connect about 80 members to the rest of world. They also acquired a truck and tractor for excavating, leveling, hoeing, and easier transportation to the mill, which reduces travel time for the members and improves the marketability of the sugar cane.
Micro-credit: Initiated a credit program that provides members with low-interest loans.
Healthcare services: Maintaining the co-op’s only ambulance; subsidized dental care for its members; Another coop makes dental and medical consultation available to the entire village while subsidizing its members’ costs.
Technical assistance: Providing resources to help the members produce citrus and medicinal plants in addition to the cane crop.
Office construction: Building cooperative offices and a resource center. The facility is equipped with a fully functional dentist and doctor’s office, waiting rooms, restrooms, a large meeting room and a small kitchen.
Malawi: Natural & Raw Sugars
The premiums from Fair Trade sales have increased our income and our status. We're also assured of sustainability in our business--part of the premium money is invested in the plough-out and planting program. --Exford Dimo, Cane grower and co-op board member
Active co-op Members: 282
Average farm size: 2.5 hectares (6.1 acres)
Premiums invested in:
Access to safe water: Drilling water wells that bring safe water to villages. Previously, people carried water from the Shire River, where crocodiles have killed several water-gatherers, and the unsanitary water supply frequently causes diseases such as bilharzia, cholera and dysentery.
Electricity: Bringing power to the village, which previously had no access to electricity.
Medical supplies: Supplying 20,000 tablets of the medication required to treat bilharzia, a common and deadly water borne disease.
Schools and a new clinic: Providing building materials for the construction of schools. They plan to build a school for children in remote villages and a secondary school near the co-op’s offices.
New crops: Helping replant 12% of the members’ land every year.
Credit: Providing co-op members with small, low-interest loans.
Mexico: Organic Honeys
We are happy about having a strong presence in the United States. Here in Motozintla, coffee and honey are our main economic influences. Although our market fluctuates locally, since Fair Trade, we are now working on a price base that’s competitive and reliable.
--Fortunato Samayoa Fernandez
President of the Cooperative
High in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico beekeepers have formed a Fair Trade Certified cooperative and the whole community prospers from the honey harvest. The hives have been tended by Mayan communities for generations. Although there is a centuries-old beekeeping tradition here, honey production has only recently been recognized as a viable and stable income opportunity in the global market. It creates meaningful employment, the beekeepers can develop the quality of their hives and send their children to school. By protecting the hives and native plant forage areas, Fair Trade encourages biodiversity and helps the forests thrive, too.
In years past, middlemen, or “coyotes,” took a majority of the beekeepers’ income. With Fair Trade, the middlemen are removed and the cooperatives work autonomously and directly with customers. The beekeepers are able to improve standards for their families, their communities and their honey, and protect precious rainforests and habitat.
The hives are isolated, deep within organic perimeters, and the bees forage only on native plants—wildflowers and, for one brief week every year, organically cultivated coffee blooms. As the season progresses and the flowers change, the honeys’ character changes too, deepening in color and flavor.
While they look forward to business opportunities and a new sense of stability, the cooperative’s members are inspired by their past … the Mayan beekeeping culture is surviving and thriving in the early 21st century.
Fair Trade Certified since: 2008
Number of active members: 46
Average hives per member: 70
Annual production (in metric tons):
Harvest season: December - May
Honey type: Multifloral
Other products grown: Coffee
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Certified beekeeping cooperatives have been certified since 2008. Please stay tuned for news about the difference your support of Fair Trade Organic Honeys makes in Chiapas and the Yucatan.