Gloria Maria Talavera Gonzalez. Fairtrade Coffee & Cocoa Farmer & Women’s Coordinator Producer from the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Nicaragua.
She has been farming cocoa and coffee in Corinta Finca for over 25 years. Fairtrade has enabled:-
- Financing a scholarship for her son to study agricultural engineering in Germany for a year, helping to keep young people involved with the land.
- Fairtrade provided credit for replacing all her coffee plants when the fungal leaf rust disease (La Roya), decimated her and neighbouring crops in 2013.
- Her son and daughter help on the plantation at weekends, removing poor quality coffee beans and cocoa pods that not growing well.
Gloria stressed the importance of Fairtrade especially in the areas of:
- Developing and spreading women’s gender equality, men and women are paid the same price for their coffee. A separate women’s coffee brand has developed over the last few years called “Sister”.
- Through Fairtrade producer cooperatives, larger amounts of coffee and cocoa can be exported, on newly surfaced roads, partly paid for by the Fairtrade Premium.
- The organic coffee and cocoa meet the exacting Fairtrade Certificate Standards and requirements which are regularly inspected and so have consumer confidence.
- Agricultural technicians and agronomists supervise the Cooperatives’ plantations.
- SOPPEXCCA’s farmers work with the environment. They are encouraged to grow other crops, both as for healthy consumption, but also for selling in local markets and even exporting. Bananas, orchard fruit, maize and organic honey, are crucial cash crops as well as providing vital vitamins for families and for food security.
- Nicaragua is well off for water and forests, but climate change of just a few degrees can have a dramatic impact on coffee production, the main cash crop. Fortunately, cocoa grows well in the fertile, volcanic soil and fills in most of the income gap. Plots devoted to bananas, mangoes, and other diversified fruit provide more than self-sufficiency – diverse income streams. Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree.
- A group of enterprising women, using part of the Fairtrade Premium have utilized local organic beekeeping to combine the honey with the maize to produce a grain energy bar. They were aided by marketing help from a female entrepreneur in Ireland who advised on marketing. These energy bars are also sold in their plantation cafe. Unsold fruit along with washed coffee sludge is dried and bagged for organic fertilizer for Cooperative members.
- Fairtrade Premiums have been invested in community health projects over the years, including a free health clinic for workers and regular cancer checks.
- A holistic approach is adopted with guaranteed Fairtrade coffee and cocoa prices ironing out fluctuations in world prices and allowing farmers to plan for the future for cash crops. The Fairtrade Premium also encourages fledgling income diversity and local ripple effect industries to provide new revenue streams, some of which are very intuitive.
Notes Produced by:
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade