Producer Profile: APECAFORM

Written by Cafe Campesino on Feb 1, 2005 in NEWSLETTER, Producer Profile |
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Founded in 1992 and legalized under Guatemalan law in 1998, APECAFORM (Asociación de Pequeños Caficultores Orgánicos Maya-Mames) is made up of 400 members living in 19 communities in the western highlands of Guatemala, on the slopes of the Tajumulco volcano. Their fine Arabica coffee is noted for being sweet and clean, providing good acidity and body in the cup. APECAFORM’s coffee is SHP Certified Organic by Mayacert-Oko Garantie.

The Coop’s highest decision-making authority is the General Assembly, though a Central Board of Directors guides and executes the main activities of APECAFORM, coordinating tasks with five Local Boards of Directors based in community centers. In addition, 21 local promoters coordinate and conduct technical trainings to improve organic agricultural practices and to facilitate commercialization and a variety of social projects.

Because of its central location, the coordinating community center was established in Pueblo Nuevo — it is only a two-hour drive to the city of San Marcos and on average a two and a half-hour walk from the remaining 18 APECAFORM communities.

APECAFORM is in its fifth harvest of organic certified production. There are now 345 members under certification and 100 percent of their total export production is sold to the Fair Trade market. This represents about 75% of their total production, with the balance sold in local markets.

Exporting through Manos Campesinas to Fair Trade markets has meant the difference between selling coffee at Q.600 (US$78) per QQ parchment to coyotes and Q.700 (US$91) per QQ now as APECAFORM members. Due to the recent rise in green coffee prices, the premium earned through Fair Trade isn’t as significant as it has been in years past – when farmers received 2-3 times more through Fair Trade commercialization. However, APECAFORM membership offers many benefits in addition to higher prices – including technical advice from agricultural advisors, pre-financing 3 months ahead of harvest, and leadership and financial training.

Through a strategic credit partnership between EcoLogic, APECAFORM and Cooperative Coffees, producers have been able to increase direct Fair Trade sales by an average of 30% annually for the last 4 years. The Fair Trade premiums have helped the cooperative purchase land for the construction of a warehouse in Malacatan and create a community fund to support their network of organic promoters and coordinators. In the future, APECAFORM hopes to achieve its three primary goals of constructing a wet processing plant and coffee collection facility in each of the five community centers, building their central warehouse in Matacatan for collecting all coffee from the community centers and increasing the credit funding available to farmers for pre-financing. Funding was recently secured from the Interamerican Bank to help meet these goals.

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