As Fairtrade Fortnight continues, we receive offers of more and more promotional material. A particularly welcome item in the post was a DVD from the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign: Coffee – Take It Fairly: Stories of Nicaraguan women fairtrade producers. Three women of Los Alpes near Jinotega, north Nicaragua, members of the SOPPEXCCA co-op, tell their stories. The video is available at the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign shop online here.
The film is inspiring and shows the difference that Fairtrade can make to farmers and their communities. Two of the women are raising their families on their own and lived in poverty. The village had no school. But the really helpful element of the film is that it is not the extra cash from Fairtrade that has helped regenerate the community and the local economy. It is being a co-operative in itself.
By operating in a collective and democratic manner, the growers have been able to do more. They have been able to educate one another about methods and techniques, including being organic, and invest in training, new practices and technology so that their product is of a higher quality. They could club together as a new brand – Las Hermanas – solely from the beans of women growers. Members have been encouraged to diversify their crops. They have been able to make collective decisions for their community, so investing in schools and three new pharmacies. It has given its members – particularly women – a voice, and a chance to meet buyers and activists from around the world.