ASOBAGRI - Asociación Barillense de Agricultores
Since then, however, ASOBAGRI has grown and now counts on more than 900 members, all growing organic coffee, and over 200 more in transition organic cultivation. The cooperative is incredibly diverse representing 67 different Mayan communities. Of the 900 active members growing organic coffee, about 95 are women who produce and process their own. Cooperative members grow high-quality, shade-grown coffee using organic compost. Since Fair Trade Certification in 1999, ASOBAGRI has enjoyed significantly higher revenues. They are now certified Organic, Café Feminino and Bird Friendly.
Other effects that fair trade has had on our cooperative and our communities have been the positive social benefits from the premiums received. Since there is a minimum price for the purchase of our fair trade coffee, we have been able to use these premium funds to create various social programs that not only improve our cooperative's operating abilities, but they have been used as tools for the positive development of our members' communities. ”
Baltazar Francisco Miguel
Fair trade has helped our cooperative obtain additional financing that is very important to our development as a service provider to small farmers. Before, it was very difficult to get national financing since too much collateral and too many assets are required for this. Now, our fair trade partners and clients support us by either directly providing financing or providing the necessary networking for us to get financed with some other organization outside of Guatemala. ”
Baltazar Francisco Miguel
We are very thankful to ASOBAGRI who supported the extension and revitalization of our roads at a time the community needed most. This type of work is usually done by the government, but they were not doing anything and we felt incapable of fiximg the structures on our own.
Sebastian Lucas Pascual
Adequate health care is often a challenge for small producers as they usually do not have enough for emergencies. ASOBAGRI provides support to its members by paying for transportation to medical facilities. This is an invaluable service especially to those living in remote areas, without easy or inexpensive access to public transportation. ASOBAGRI also extends short term healthcare loans without interest to families when a medical emergency occurs. Alternatively, cooperative members must resort to money lenders or intermediaries for loans who often request a future guarantee of the family’s coffee harvest in exchange for the loan, or charge greater interest.
Natural Disaster Fund
ASOBAGRI has reserved part of their premiums received for this fund that supports members if there has been a natural disaster. If a member's house, harvest or land has been affected by a natural disaster, then this fund provides the resources to help rebuild or fix the affected areas to help the member continue to produce quality coffee. The funds released to members from this program do not have to be repaid.
Women's Micro Fund
A fund has been established with fair trade premiums to provide loans to member women who are interested in creating or improving a micro-enterprise. With the assistance of this fund, women have created community grocery stores and markets, bakeries, as well as other small businesses that have directly benefited members and their communities. This fund has helped families diversify their income and has further assisted with the empowerment of women and their children.