July 2010 – Delegation to Fondo Paez

Written by Cafe Campesino on Jul 27, 2010 in POSTS FROM THE FIELD |

Cafe Campesino Delegation & Fondo Paez' Chimicueto Coffee Farmers

Last Thursday, July 22nd, our delegation headed out to spend the day with the Fondo Paez producer group at Chimicueto, which is located in the Jambalo reserve in the Cordillera Central of southern Colombia. 

Our delegation included: myself, representing Cafe Campesino, Sweetwater Organic Coffee, and Cooperative Coffees,  Glenn Lathrop, owner of Desert Sun Coffee Roasters in Durango, Colorado and fellow member of Cooperative Coffees, Claren Jamerson, manager of The Sentient Bean coffee house in Savannah, Georgia, Brad Baugh, a Cafe Campesino community investor, and Scott Umstattd, friend and photographer extraordinaire.

The primary purpose of the meeting was the presentation of the 2009 annual report to the 60 Chimicueto members of the Fondo Paez by their elected board members.  Fondo Paez and its members are our long-time trading partners and friends in the Cordillera Central of southern Colombia.  Miguel Martinez, Fondo Paez’ Commercialization Coordinator, a board member, and coffee farmer and Vacilio Medina, assistant to Miguel (and also a member of the board and coffee farmer), led the meeting, reviewing the coop’s 2009 income and expenses, explaining the importance of financial tracking, control, and transparency and, ultimately, reporting that in 2009 the coop, once again, showed a profit, which is to be distributed to the members in a subsequent visit.

We were warmly received by the group and spent a good amount of time introducing ourselves to each other, explaining to each other how our businesses and cooperatives work (coffee farming and roasting and then Cooperative Coffees and the Fondo Paez coop, respectively) and exchanging questions and answers with each other about a range of topics.  We were also encouraged to participate in the Q&A throughout the presentation of the annual report.  The meeting lasted from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.  It was a wonderful, productive experience.  Miguel commented that our presence and participation plays an important role in the strengthening of the cooperative and did so especially that day.  We agreed that the current Fair Trade certification system as dictated by FLO is not working as it should, but we also agreed that the principles of Fair Trade remain quite valid and that the manner in which Fondo Paez and Cooperative Coffees are conducting our relationship is a testament to the potential of truly fair, transparent, and cooperative  trading relationships.  Stay tuned for more detailed info from our delegation to Fondo Paez in the upcoming August issue of Fair Grounds.

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