Network of Peruvian coffee growers work in favor of fair trade based on principles and opportunities

During 2015, CLAC provided a total of 186 Small Producers’ Organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean with training in strengthening capacities in the areas of social compliance and children’s well-being. Along these lines, a workshop on these topics was held in November 2015 in Peru, in the northeastern region of the Amazons (Región Nor Oriental de Amazonas). In attendance were representatives of important organizations of coffee producers. The objective was to enhance knowledge regarding compliance criteria within Fair Trade standards, as well as to consolidate collaborative relationships for confronting the challenges that these topics present for our society.

As a result of this workshop, efforts began to build what is today a reality: a Network of Cooperation in the technical areas of Lonya Grande coffee organizations. The network is composed of the CECAFE, JUMARP and Montaña Azul cooperatives, which bring together over 1,150 families in Fair Trade Organizations from the Lonya Grande, Yamón, Camporredondo and Ocallí districts of the Amazons Region.

“Our initiative is a great opportunity for our coffee-producer families. We are supporting each other mutually and strengthening our ties within inclusive fair trade, with principles and with respect for our societies,” stated Elvis Huanca, the Network’s coordinator.

Currently, the network has invested financial resources from the fair trade premium in implementing activities such as posters on children’s rights and well-being, workshops on Fairtrade system standards, and social impact campaigns.

Financial management, an important key for producers in Colombia

In the framework of the “Improving the financial and organizational management of 25 organizations in Peru and Colombia” project implemented by CLAC and the Shared Interest Foundation (SIF) in the United Kingdom, two workshops on financial management were held for the benefit of 10 Small Producers’ Organizations that are Fairtrade certified in Cacao and Bananas, and located in the Colombian cities of Montería and Santa Marta.

In this second stage, on May 16-21, the primary objectives were to articulate the reasons for the financial needs of businesses in order to grow and the most important sources of financing that will enable business growth, including a good understanding of social lenders.

“Participating in this Financial Management workshop provided me with knowledge that I didn’t have previously. I arrived with a blindfold over my eyes that gradually fell away as the workshop progressed. Now I can see the history of an organization through numbers. I can understand and interpret an organization’s financial statements. With the knowledge I learned, I have a clearer idea of my role as a legal representative, and in planning and making decisions. These were really unique workshops that gave us exactly what we needed,” commented Isabel Córdoba, the legal representative of the ACATA cacao cooperative.

The participating cacao producers’ organizations were Acata, Asocaval, Aprocafa, Asipat and Aprocamalosan, and the participating banana producers’ organizations were Coobamag, Coobafrío, Asobanarcoop, Emprebancoop and Coomulbanano). Representatives of the Board of Directors of these organizations were in attendance, together with representatives of the Oversight Committees and administrative personnel from each one of them. They participated actively and dynamically in the various sessions held.

The sessions for each workshop were held over two days, and were the responsibility of Jhonny Cabellos, Loan Officer at Shared Interest South America, with support from Strengthening Managers for Colombia, Alexis Martínez and Sol María Toro.

 

 


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CESPPO and the experience of the Impact and Entrepreneurship School

The CLAC-TRIAS relationship has been fundamental for the entire process of preparing impact work with the El Salvador Network of Small Organized Producers (Coordinadora de El Salvador de Pequeños Productores Organizados). Since 2014, various activities aimed at internal strengthening of the Impact Network have been carried out.

One example is the workshop/forum entitled “Analysis of the reality in El Salvador and the role of producer organizations in the country (Análisis de la realidad salvadoreña y el papel de las organizaciones de productores/as en El Salvador).” The objectives were the following: a) learning about the actions by the Salvadoran government in favor of small producers; b) learning more about the experiences of other organizations in national policy impact processes; and c) presentation of the “Public-Private Partnership” in other countries in the region. Three fundamental elements for producer organizations, as they work to impact policies, were highlighted during the workshop: 1) promoting capacities for analyzing national social and political contexts, as well as the situation and needs of small producers’ organizations; 2) working on the capacities of organizations to make and respond to proposals, with the aim of constructing alternatives to respond to identified problems; and 3) capacities for negotiating with stakeholders currently involved in issues that are of interest to organizations or that could potentially be impacted. The report from this workshop concludes with the need for specific assistance to small producers’ organizations, to enable them to concretely impact national policies affecting the coffee sector, for example.

 

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Another important workshop, resulting from joint efforts by CLAC and TRIAS in assisting CESPPO, was entitled “Networking with other stakeholders of interest in the development arena (Vinculación con otros actores de interés en el ámbito del desarrollo).” The focus was primarily on links with the national coffee sector, in collaboration with CENTA (Centro Nacional de Tecnología Agrícola y Forestal), an autonomous institution working in the coffee productive and commercial chain, among other areas.

However, the most important process carried out with CESPPO is the “Impact and Entrepreneurship School with a Focus on Generational Succession” (2015), an experience well worth remembering among CLAC’s efforts that we are promoting in our strategic line of impact work. The main objective of the school is to increasingly involve more young people in processes of building capacities and enhancing knowledge, to enable them to begin to make decisions and actively participate in impact activities carried out by base-level organizations and CESPPO.

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The training module for constructing an impact strategy was based on FACT methodology (Farmers Advocacy Consultation Tool). This is a tool similar to others that can be found at the international level. It was established by Agriterra, a well-known agricultural agency in the Netherlands, and an international development assistance organization focused on agricultural and rural development, structurally linked to famers’ organizations in the Netherlands. The four pillars of this methodology, which guides processes of participative research and proposals for generating development alternatives, are: 1) consultations with membership; 2) participative research; 3) proposal development; and 4) mapping and analyzing of stakeholders for lobbying (power maps). This training process resulted in the forming of the Impact Committee within CESPPO (Comité de Incidencia al interior de la CESPPO), and one of its responsibilities is to transmit the teaching of this methodology among organizations. The committee is working alongside groups of young people in a number of proposals for productive and business initiatives for the intergenerational sustainability of base-level organizations. In this way, the school assisted in applying a methodological focus to impact work, and also to entrepreneurship, combining the two elements in the same training process. This was the key focus of the Salvadoran experience.

These efforts in training and education challenge members to begin to internalize practices in planning and making proposals and challenge organizations to include participative planning and research in their organizational culture. In this way we are responding to one of the primary problems identified by CLAC during the construction of its continent-wide Impact Strategy: the weaknesses within member organizations (producer organizations and national networks) that impede effective work in the areas of political and social impact.

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Also included in the workshops sponsored by CLAC and TRIAS with CESPPO in El Salvador was a gender perspective, calling upon women in the organization to take a key role in constructing proposals and mapping stakeholders. These women are currently serving on the Impact Committee. It is acknowledged that the Network still has a lot of work to do, in terms of playing a decisive role in impact processes, but these steps in training and planning helped to build an understanding of and motivate the construction of a work plan.

CESPPO’s experience shows us that participation by everyone (men, women, youth, etc.) is fundamental in the impact processes promoted by our organizations, and that the planning process is only the first step, and must be followed by coordinated actions that respond to the priorities identified, to the plan defined jointly and to the responsibilities assumed. This experience also demonstrates that educational processes are never done, and it is important to remain up to date on the political, social and economic changes taking place in our societies.

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CLAC holds conference entitled “Jóvenes sembrando enfoque generacional”

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“I’m here with the expectation of learning about other successful experiences and knowledge, to implement these experiences in my organization and increasingly strengthen young people. I’m enthusiastic and grateful to be here at this event, which I know will make me a better person for the benefit of my organization,” stated Hernán Aguilar Alvarado, a young man from Mexico. He represented the Cooperativa Unión de Ejidos de la Selva, and was one of 30 young people from cooperatives and associations in Latin America and the Caribbean participating in CLAC’s first youth conference on March 16-18, in San Salvador, El Salvador.

The objective of the conference was to generate a forum for presenting and exchanging experiences that contribute to strengthening processes of including young people involved in CLAC organizations, to enable their voices to reach the places where decisions are made.

Bernal Valverde, a young man who serves as the secretary for CLAC’s Board of Directors, shared the successful experience of Coopevictoria in involving youth, and shared information regarding the project for recycling and environmental protection that this organization is implementing. In addition Juan Zurita and Raúl Caso presented the strategy for strengthening the youth network in Peru, and Johan Ledesma presented an initiative by the Universidad para el Campo in Colombia.

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“In the Dominican Republic we are working a great deal with young people on the issue of climate change, since it is directly affecting us. We also have focus groups that are working on the issue of preventing child labor. I believe these are experiences that can contribute a lot to other organizations, to take these ideas and implement them,” stated Rosa Marmolejo, a representative of CONACADO, in the Dominican Republic.

Also during the conference, a workshop on climate change was held, as well as on CLAC’s virtual tools, and there was a field visit to the Los Pinos coffee cooperative. One of the main results at the end of this conference was the input offered by young people on building a CLAC strategy for achieving more inclusion of young people.

Honduran Fair Trade Organizations participated at the event on Tax Laws, Internal Controls and Financial Analysis

As part of efforts to strengthen knowledge in administrative and internal control matters, an event was organized and entitled “Event on Tax Laws and internal controls with Fairtrade organizations.” A total of 28 participants from 11 organizations attended the event, which was coordinated by the Honduran Network and the Asociación de Organismos no Gubernamentales (ASONOG). A very positive alliance has been achieved between these two entities and they have been carrying out some joint activities. Those in attendance at this event included administrative-accounting personnel from producers’ organizations, as well as members of their Boards of Directors and personnel on their management teams, in addition to support personnel from CHPP and ASONOG. The event was facilitated by Juan Carlos Guerra, an expert advisor who has experience in the topics addressed.

Among the important topics worth highlighting were tax calculations and tax statements to national tax entities, internal controls and their importance for organizations, treatment of financial statements, accounting and procedures for the Fairtrade premium, financial analysis, and particularly worth underscoring is the importance of an Administrative Policy, which is part of internal controls, and which was explained for the example of producers’ organizations receiving funds from the Finland project.

 


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Community participation: a key in designing strategies for addressing climate change

In the Magdalena banana region of Colombia, known for its special conditions for producing sweet, high-quality, Fair Trade bananas, there are five small banana producers’ organizations that together form a second-level cooperative known as the Asociación de Cooperativas del Magdalena (ASOCOOMAG).

ASOCOOMAG brings together over 320 families, who have been working in banana production for more than 100 years. Changes in the climate, decreasing water availability in summers, and major flooding in winters are increasingly evident.

The consequences of global warming are not problems that banana cooperatives can resolve on their own. Instead, the joint efforts of entire communities and their social environments are required. For this reason ASOCOOMAG and Banafrucoop are implementing a project, the primary objective of which is to create spaces for community encounters that will facilitate reflecting upon, sharing ideas and joint designing of strategies for resolving the primary environmental problems, to then create effective actions in environmental education for promoting mitigation and adaptation processes in the banana region. Young people are being invited to participate in this project and to serve as the driving force for this proposal.

The project began in October 2015 and receives assistance from Max Haveelar Holland, in addition to a commitment from organizations belonging to ASOOCOMAG to co-finance this initiative. The project receives support and assistance from CLAC and Fairtrade International, in promoting its dynamic implementation, and from an alliance with Augura NGOs and through contact with the Solidaridad NGO, to establish support for carrying out the process.

There are major challenges, and collective involvement is needed to overcome them. The principle of collective work and organization will help us move forward!

CLAC and TRIAS facilitate a workshop on intergenerational experiences with young producers

On June 9, at the Los Pino Cooperative in El Salvador, an intergenerational event was held, for exchanging experiences among the 35 participants, including both young people and adults from five organizations connected with CLAC. Strategic assistance was provided by TRIAS, a Belgium NGO.

The objective of the workshop was to generate a space for reflection in which Boards of Directors and young people could identify some proposals for implementing strategies, as part of the processes for strengthening their organizations and enhancing their sustainability.

Participants commented on the particular situation currently experienced by young people. One of the most helpful interventions on this topic was made by the Los Pinos Cooperative, which shared its experience in implementing an intergenerational approach through concrete actions. “We thought that we were all going to be kicked out, and replaced by other members, but new membership is important in seeking a new atmosphere for labor and agricultural activities,” commented Eliseo Sura, who presides over Los Pinos’ Board of Directors.

Both CLAC and TRIAS believe it is necessary to promote an intergenerational approach in which a historic perspective is used in viewing the stages of life, from childhood to the older years, and links are established among all generations, with the objectives of connecting and strengthening.

“In our organizations we must think of actions for motivating the incorporation of young people, and creating opportunities for them to generate income,” stated María del Mar Avilés, a member of the APRAINORES Board of Directors.

 


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Coopecañera participates in REDESS workshop

On September 11 Coopecañera participated in a regional workshop of the Costa Rican Social Solidarity Economics Network (Red de Economía Social Solidaria de Costa Rica—REDESS), held at the offices of Espíritu Santo-Coffee Tour de Coopronaranjo. Participants came from cooperatives and groups of producers and craftspersons from areas such as La Paz, Piedades Norte, Piedades Sur, San Juan and parts of Naranjo. Also in attendance were municipal and Health Ministry officials, primarily from the San Ramón and Naranjo area.

The primary objective was to develop a Collaborative Mapping of Social Solidarity Economies in Costa Rica. According to spokespersons from REDESS, collaborative mapping in this case means working together and sharing information regarding Social Solidarity Economy organizations, networks and processes in the country. This process also allows for identifying the geographical location of producer groups, the services sector, local markets, stores and rural and urban marketing networks.

A representative from Coopecañera R.L., Claudio Gutiérrez, commented: “In Coopecañera—an organization of small sugar cane producers certified in Fair Trade for 15 years—we have some experience in this type of Solidarity Economy. We are very interested in these initiatives, to which we can contribute something from our experiences, since our members and other members of our local communities grow other products for both self-consumption and for marketing in the region, thus contributing to the economic and social development of their families.

CLAC and the Costa Rica Network hold a Workshop on the Transference of a Public-Private Alliance Model for the Eradication of Child Labor

As a result of cooperation between Ecuador’s Labor Relations Ministry and Costa Rica’s Labor and Social Security Ministry, a Workshop was held on the Transference of a Public-Private Alliance Model for the Eradication of Child Labor in Ecuador.

The meeting’s fundamental objectives were to facilitate technical coordination between the two ministries for future conferences and to learn more about the work to be carried out by the delegation during its visit to the country, on the issue of child labor and its relation to the business sector.

The meeting was held on August 26-28 at the offices of the International Labor Organization in Costa Rica, in the framework of the OAS Inter-American Network for Labor Administration (RIAL), and in support of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Initiative for the eradication of child labor.

Participants included representatives from public institutions, international entities and the country’s business sector. Also participating was the president of the Costa Rica-Panama National Fair Trade Network (CNCJ-CR-P), Sonia Murillo Alfaro, representing Small Fair Trade Producers’ Organizations in Costa Rica.

The issues of child labor and child protection were addressed at the workshop. Participants were able to learn more about regulatory frameworks (laws, regulations), international conventions and Fairtrade standards in relation to children’s rights, protection and labor.

 

Escuela de Liderazgo para las mujeres fue inaugurada

El pasado 13 de agosto, fue inaugurada en El Salvador la Escuela de Liderazgo para las mujeres, iniciativa impulsada por CLAC, la Fundación para el Autodesarrollo de la Micro y Pequeña Empresa (FADEMYPE), Cooperativa la Red Unión de Mujeres (RUM), Confederación de Federaciones de la Reforma Agraria Salvadoreña (CONFRAS), Fundación Agencia de Desarrollo Económico Local (ADEL Morazán), con el apoyo de TRIAS. El objetivo de esta escuela es proporcionar herramientas que faciliten el conocimiento y reconocimiento de los derechos de las mujeres, en procura de la igualdad de oportunidades e inclusión de mujeres en las organizaciones.

“Queremos fomentar la participación activa de las mujeres en los espacios de toma de decisión a través de la formación práctica de sus capacidades para que estas mujeres den un paso a paso hacia el camino del empoderamiento económico y de sí mismas”, dijo Ruth Mártir, miembro de la RUM, y facilitadora de la escuela

Para María Edy Rivera de Paz, vocal de la Junta Directiva de APECAFÉ, esta escuela es de mucha importancia porque al participar ella tiene la firme convicción de que replicará los conocimientos en otras mujeres de su organización. “Estos espacios son de suma importancia porque en el tiempo vemos cómo la mujer ha sido invisibilizada, y en la escuela encontramos la oportunidad para que la mujeres tomemos conciencia de que tenemos voz, que no se nos vea como un objeto, y que las mujeres podemos seguir adelante porque tenemos mucho que dar a la sociedad”, afirmó Rivera.

Algunos de los temas que se estarán abordando, durante la escuela son: autoestima, liderazgo, derechos humanos de las mujeres, autonomía económica de las mujeres, mujeres territorio y trabajo del cuidado (agendas de las mujeres), división sexual del trabajo, participación de las mujeres en las estructuras de toma de decisión, principios y valores cooperativismo y marco legales, emprendimiento de las mujeres, metodología de Educación popular, técnicas de manejo de grupo, entre otros.

La Escuela que dará inicio el 22 de agosto y finalizará el 28 de noviembre de 2014, tiene previsto recibir a 40 mujeres vinculadas a una organización social o en proyectos de desarrollo con mujeres.   Se espera además sistematizar esta experiencia, para su posible réplica en otros países con mujeres de organizaciones miembros de CLAC.