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Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poco Fundo e Regi (COOPFAM)

Founded in 1991
Approximately 250 members, 60% organic
Coffee growing altitude of 1,200 m (3900 feet)
Harvest season: May - Oct
Export season: Aug - Apr
Estimated annual production: 15 containers

COOPFAM is an association of small-scale farmers located in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. The group was formed from a collective desire to improve the living standard of farmers and to reduce poverty and emigration. In 1991, seventy-six families united to form the cooperative, determined to increase the productivity of their small plots and sustain the quality of family-oriented agriculture in the region. COOPFAM was Fair Trade certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) in 1998 and began exporting to the United States in 2003.

At the inaugural Brazilian Fair Trade Certified Cupping competition in 2008, COOPFAM president Luis Adauto de Oliveira’s organic coffee received the first place prize in the natural category. The coffee was auctioned for $7.20 per pound – a price more than five dollars higher than that typically paid for Fair Trade organic coffee. Luis’ winning coffee was dried on a cement drying patio funded through the Responsible Sourcing Partnership project.

With their Fair Trade premium, COOPFAM has built a storage and processing facility for member use, and purchased tractors and other equipment as well as office technology and equipment to improve supply management and marketing. They have also purchased a car that is used to visit member farms and attend meetings. To improve member training sessions they invested in a projector, laptop, digital camera and mobile telephones. The cooperative also hired an agronomist to support and give training to member families as well as provide soil analysis and harvesting and handling training. Technical assistance for producers is fundamental in COOPFAM’s promotion of sustainable, organic production.

The co-op has used Fair Trade revenue to broaden healthcare coverage for co-op members and their families. They have developed a partnership with a health service provider to offer basic coverage to members. Services include access to a general practitioner, women’s health services, vision and dental care. COOPFAM also makes donations to the local public hospital and helps with special projects.  The coop has also implemented computer education classes for children and the community. They have also established a partnership with a private school to offer quality education to children of cooperative members.

COOPFAM has expanded the local electricity network to provide electrical access to everyone in the community. In an innovative effort, members of the cooperative manage a community farm with a house that serves as senior citizen residence for elderly members. All profits generated from the community farm are invested back into the house to pay for food, medicine, and maintenance expenses.

Cooperative Coffees met President Luis Adauto de Oliveira in 2009 and imported the first lot of COOPFAM coffee in 2010.

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