The Asociacion Chajulense Va'l Vaq Qujol was founded in 1988 by some 40 coffee farmers of the Chajul area Triangulo Ixil, Quiché. The organization obtained its legal status in 1990. At present, the organization has about 1,500 active members, most of whom are coffee farmers. The group's main goal is to promote a sustainable development model that is environmentally sound, economically feasible, fair from a social point of view and appropriate from a cultural standpoint. The organization is working in more than 50 communities of the Chajul, Nebaj, Cotzal and Chiantla areas.
Coffee is their main export market and the first exports began at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, expanding the fair trade opportunities through the FLO registration, as well as organic certification. All of the members produce certificed organic coffee. The organization is not actively looking for new members but accepts new ones if they are organic or if they have new, young farms that have been run organically for at least one or two years. Typically, they have been able to produce an average yield of 22 quintals per hectares.
In 2006, Cooperative Coffees purchased one of the first containers of fair trade, organic coffee shipped to the US market from Chajul. The organization had attempted to diversify with other products such as cardamom, cheese, honey, and handicrafts but found that some projects were not be sustainable and cost the organization too much time and effort to be profitable. At present, the organization is further developing and working with four projects: coffee, cardamom, bee honey and The Posada, which is a lodge for tourists and visitors.
Read about the Chajul women's group and the artisan products they produce - Chajulense de Mujeres - at the Cooperative Coffees website.