FAPECAFES (Federación Regional de Asociaciones de Pequeños Cafetaleros Ecológicos del Sur), located in the mountainous Amazonian region of southern Ecuador, is an umbrella organization of seven primary-level cooperatives growing, processing and exporting green coffee, honey and plantains. FAPECAFES was established in 2002 to improve the conditions of the farmers through organic and sustainable farming practices. In 2003, the federation received Fair Trade certification. FAPECAFES has been producing coffee for export since its inception, with most of its growth as a result of the support of the Belgian development organizaiton VECO. The sum of FAPECAFES coffee farmer members produce some 6,000,000 pounds of coffee per year, or about 12 containers of export quality green coffee. Approximately 95 percent of FAPECAFES members are small-scale farmers, growing on fewer than 10 hectares of land. Since 2013, Coop Coffees has been sourcing Ecuadorian coffee from two of the primary organizations located in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe. APECAP, founded in 2002, is located in the municipality of Palanda and has approximately 300 members. ACRIM, founded a year later in the neighbouring municipality of Zumba as an offshoot of APECAP, has 180 members (of whom 45 are women). To this day ACRIM and APECAP maintain excellent relations. These two organizations produce nearly 75 percent of the overall volume of FAPECAFES’ coffee, and have considerable leverage in the management and governance of this umbrella cooperative. Together APECAP and ACRIM have launched their own product designation of origin “Bracamoros” to distinguish it from Peruvian coffee being cultivated across the border. FAPECAFES members in general have struggled to cope with roya (coffee leaf rust), and have seen their production levels drop to nearly half the volumes of the 2013-2014 harvest season. The base organizations have been encouraging their members to implement control practices, such as foliar sprays of “caldos bordeles” – an “organic-certification accepted” mixutre of lime, sulfur and other minerals to help combat the problem. But many producers are experimenting with their own compost tea by mixing effective microorganisms, milk, vegetable waste, manure and fermenting for 30 days before spraying. Since there is a limited amount of high quality washed Ecuadorian Arabica coffee available in the world market, and low production due to roya, FAPECAFES has introduced a commercial strategy to place itself as one of the highest quality providers of Ecuadorian coffees. Since 2008 it has been sponsoring the “Bracamoros Coffee” festival, including a cupping competition, in the Zamora-Chinchipe area. Organized by APECAP and ACRIM, they have been selecting and awarding prizes to the highest scoring coffees submitted by their small-scale farmers. Since 2014, Cooperative Coffees has been participating in the cupping panel of this competition and in the subsequent micro-lot auction. Such quality initiatives have in many cases quadrupled the income of farmers, and helped raise the profile of Ecuadorian coffees.
Federación Regional de Asociaciones de Pequeños Cafetaleros Ecológicos del Sur