Improving the quality of life in rural communities
News from Nicaragua | Friday, 16 January 2015 | Click here for original article
Improving the quality of life in rural communities, Cecocafen celebrates
Over 1,000 cooperatives with a membership of 285,000 families form a central part of the government’s programme to improve the quality of life in rural communities.
Cecocafen (the Coffee Cooperatives Central of the North) is one such umbrella cooperative. Made up of 2,637 small holder members, the cooperative promotes and sells high quality coffee. The basis of their operation rests upon offering equitable opportunities for integrated development; promoting environmentally sustainable farming practices; and producing high quality coffee.
Cecocafen has helped small producers gain access to international markets and better prices which they keep rather than giving them to the middlemen who previously received the benefits. Last year for example the eleven organic certified cooperatives comprising Cecocafen received US$679,000 in premiums for their fair trade and organic coffee.
At a celebration of Cecocafen’s 17th anniversary, general manager Ivan Zelaya cited the organisaiton’s commitment to the economic, social, and environmental health of the family. “The person and the family are the centre of development.”
Cecocafen founder Pedro Haslam Mendoza said it has all been part of a process of building a permanent cooperative model in Nicaragua through which small farmers have worked together to improve the quality of life in their rural communities.
Ariel Bucardo, president of the National Commission of Cooperatives, highlighted the way in which cooperatives have overcome obstacles to the point where there are 1,100 in the country with a membership of 285,000 families. He pointed out that the sector has become a major generator of jobs.
The manager of the Bank of Production (Banpro) branch in Matagalpa also spoke, saying that Cecocafen is one of the best organised cooperative federations in Nicaragua and the bank’s best client in the Department of Matagalpa.
‘Equipping women to become more economically independent is critical in the battle for gender equality,’ according to Blanca Molina, president one of the UCA San Ramon, one of Cecocafen’s member cooperatives. The UCA has start up loans for women members so that they ‘can earn their own income and have more choice in how they spend their money. That way they can start to break down the dependency [on men] that currently exists.”