FEDECOCAGUA became Fairtrade certified in 2000, though some member cooperatives have been selling to the Fairtrade market for more than 10 years.
The Federación de Cooperativas Agrícolas Guatemala (FEDECOCAGUA) is a second-level co-operative founded in 1969 to improve the position of small-scale coffee growers. It is the umbrella organisation for 20,000 coffee farmers belonging to 52 affiliated farmers’ organisations – 33 of which have Fairtrade certification and a total of 3,726 individual Fairtrade members.
FEDECOCAGUA say its goals as a cooperative are the same as when it was founded in 1969: “to achieve better market opportunities for small coffee producers and improve the living standards of their families. We achieve this by putting into practice the principles of team work, creativity, innovation, social responsibility and respect for nature. On the other hand FEDECOCAGUA has a strong commitment to its customers, meeting their requirements for the highest quality coffee.”
FEDECOCAGUA provides a range of services including access to a credit scheme, technical support, transport, warehousing, and the purchase, processing and export of members’ coffee beans. This commercialisation of coffee production means the farmers receive higher prices than when they had to sell to middlemen. An organic conversion programme has also been established.
FEDECOCAGUA members, 70% of whom are indigenous people, are spread over different regions of Guatemala including Huehuetenango, Cobán, Verapaces, Retalhuleu, San Marcos, and Zacapa. These rural areas are characterised by difficult economic conditions and poor infrastructure, particularly roads, electricity, communication, health, and education.
Coffee is the main cash crop and provides 90% of farmers’ incomes. The average farm is around 10ha in size. Around 3.2ha is given over to coffee production which is 100 per cent shade-grown. The farmers grow cocoa, banana, mango, and plantain which are also used as shade trees for their coffee. They also grow vegetables and some families keep animals and make handicrafts. A number of farmers are putting more resources into diversifying into citrus fruits and cardamom due to the extremely low coffee prices in recent years.
Benefits of Fairtrade
Restoration of local health clinics
FEDECOCAGUA invested Fair Trade premiums in the restoration of local health clinics. In Yupitepque, Jutiapa, premium funds were used to install a water pump for the town’s health clinic.
New Roof for School
Fair Trade premiums were used to build and improve schools. Children at a school in Cooperative Esperanza del Futuro in Jalapa now have a new roof that keeps out the dampness.
Two New Drying Patios and Wet Mills
Two new drying patios and wet mills were financed with Fair Trade revenue.