Organic Cert Link
CECOCAFEN, the Coffee Cooperatives Central in the Northern Regions, is an umbrella organization promoting and selling quality coffees from nine cooperatives. The basis of their operation rests upon producing a quality coffee, establishing programs for ecological practices, and offering equitable opportunities for integrated development of their members' communities. During visits to the region, we consistently witness these three elements at work.
CECOCAFEN started with 500 producers, exporting 7000 quintals of coffee. Today, more than 2000 families are members, exporting around 70,000 quintals of coffee. For the 2005-2006 harvest period, the national market price for a quintal of coffee was 110 dollars, whereas Cecocafen received an average price of 134 dollars a quintal. This organization has 28 clients to which they exported 166 containers of coffee. For each hundred bags of coffee produced, 31 were certified fair trade, 31 were certified organic, 42 were exported to Europe and 58 to North America.
In the early stages of this umbrella organization, obtaining credit for their members was found to be particularly challenging. However, for the 2005-2006 production period, they had access to more than 6 million dollars in credit, indicating to what extent they have grown. This credit access allows members of CECOCAFEN to cover the expenses of the harvest until they are paid by buyers. When local banks are unwilling to provide credit lines to small procuders, this provides an excellent alternative source of funds. The increased income gained from selling fair trade has also allowed community women's groups to participate in a micro-savings and loan programs, facilitating a variety of production projects and simply putting more food on the table. There are 26 groups, representing 652 women, saving about 100 thousand dollars.
Their Fair Trade coffee sales have grown steadily, and so have the numbers of children able to participate in CECOCAFEN's high school, technical training and university scholarship program. Some 428 children of partners have taken advantage of these programs. These young students are studying careers related to the life in the cooperatives. In exchange they provide 100 hours of work to the organization. They help provide a service of adult education in the cooperative. In one year, 32 young people helped 375 adults to learn how to read and write.
At Cooperative Coffees we are proud to partner with CECOCAFEN, and to be able to play a part in creating dignified solutions to the problems these farmers confront on a daily basis. With fair trade premiums and development credits, CECOCAFEN was able to purchase the SolCafe processing plant, equipped with ample drying beds, a complete line of sorting machines and a fully equipped cupping laboratory. Internalizing these steps for processing and testing allows CECOCAFEN to improve quality control and to negotiate significantly better prices for the farmers.
It is an impressive sight - from tiny piles to great pyramids - to see their members' coffee spread across the drying patios. CECOCAFEN receives each producer's coffee separately and tests for quality and humidity content. The cooperative is promoting each producer region for its specific characteristics and is in the process of establishing 'brand recognition' for their corresponding coffees. The results of their collective efforts speak for themselves.
In the future, CECOCAFEN will try to be more competitive, since the growth in both the fair trade and the organic market has attracted bigger producers. They will try to increase the productive yield of their plantation to lower costs of production, maintain coffee quality, and improve the standard of living of their members. Also, they would like to diversify their production and increase their sale of coffee and reach better prices for it.
Click here for more information and photos from CECOCAFEN.