Cooperativa de Caficultores de Antioquia

For the coffee famers of the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Antioquia in Colombia, planning for the future is a rigorous process of understanding community needs and utilizing democratic principles to make wise investments. The award-winning coffees of Antioquia reflect this dedication to constant improvement and working together.


Country: Colombia

Founded: 2000

Fairtrade certified in: 2010

Main products: Coffee

Number of members: 10,800 members


Planning for a Prosperous Future in Colombia

2015 Coop Cafe Antioquia 870
The coffee famers of the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Antioquia use democratic principles to make wise investments.
Image courtesy of Cooperativa de Caficultores de Antioquia

The Assembly of Delegates at the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Antioquia is a hive of activity and exchange. And it's no wonder. The delegates, elected by the farmer members to represent their needs, meet once a year to analyze, discuss and eventually approve projects that will be financed with the Fairtrade Premium. The outcome of the discussions is reflected in a detailed Annual Development Plan.

The cooperative became Fairtrade certified in 2010. In 2013, the farmers sold more than 776MT of their coffee on Fairtrade terms. These sales resulted in significant amounts of Fairtrade Premium – more than €281,000 – which is the additional sum paid on top of the green coffee purchase price.

The Fairtrade Premium gives the cooperative the ability to make significant investments to improve their community. But this money also brings a huge responsibility since the projects must reflect the wishes and respond to the needs of the more than 10,000 farmer members and their families, in more than 50 municipalities.

"We have developed a consultation methodology using surveys and meetings to gather opinions and determine the main needs of our members in the different municipalities,” explains Rafael Ignacio Gomez Giraldo, Manager of the cooperative. “This consultation process serves as the basis of our Development Plan, which is then reviewed and voted on by the delegates."

This rigorous consultation process ensures support, and success, for the selected projects.

"The benefit of a detailed development plan, based on input from our members, is two-fold. On the one hand it allows us to ensure that we are investing according to the priorities of our members, and on the other hand it helps us comply with the Fairtrade Standards," said Gomez Giraldo.

To date, members of the cooperative have devoted much of the Premium to training programs and projects to improve coffee quality and increase productivity. The cooperative has signed agreements with SENA and Manuel Mejia Foundation to provide different courses and training for members and their families. One of these courses, "Coffee Production Assistant", was attended by around 1,000 students in 2013.

In order to improve the quality of their members’ coffee, the cooperative uses a train-the-trainer approach to spread lessons to all members. In addition, the cooperative holds the "Cup of Antioquia", a contest to recognize the best quality coffees. Seven laboratories have also been built in different municipalities and shelters to dry coffee.

"Today our farmer members are able to produce more and better quality coffee, using their resources responsibly. This allows them to generate more revenue while ensuring natural resources are preserved for future generations,” said Gomez Giraldo. “Fairtrade certification has allowed us to achieve many of our objectives within the social, economic and environmental pillars."While the members of the cooperative have already made a significant impact on the community, the enthusiasm and desire to continue planning together is unabated. Producers are already thinking about future projects to further improve the quality of their coffee and their living conditions.

"One of the principal challenges we face in the future is the preservation and maintenance of water quality in our communities. We must work to guarantee that this vital resource, the engine of our rural economy, is there for future generations," said Gomez Giraldo.

This story was first added to our website on 28 May 2015.