Co-op Name: SOPACDI
Location: South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Number of Producers: 5,200; 20% are women farmers
Certified: Organic, Fair Trade
Name: Comunidades Indígenas de la region de Simojovel de Allende (CIRSA)
Location: Chiapas, Mexico
# of Producers: 600
Certifications: Organic, Fair Trade, SPP
Interesting Fact: The members of CIRSA come primarily from two main ethnic groups, Tzotzil and Tzeltal; if Spanish is spoken at all, it is spoken as a second language.
Last Visit: In January 2014, Equal Exchange Education and Campaigns Manager Phyllis Robinson, along with Equal Exchange sales staff Cara Ross and Andrew Driscoll, took six employees of the Co-op Food Stores in New Hampshire to visit our longtime partner, CIRSA. In 2012, Co-op Food Stores became the first food co-op to pilot a Sister Co-op relationship with one of our farmer partners. As part of this exciting new relationship, Co-op Food Stores has raised funds from selling Equal Exchange coffee to build solar drying beds in two communities where CIRSA works. These are communities that receive a lot of rain, and have typically lost much of their coffee to bad weather. They inaugurated the solar dryers, raised drying beds covered in plastic sheeting, during our visit. We celebrated their construction, and the relationships we’ve deepened over the years, and the farmers expressed their excitement over the possibility of making extra income as they will be able to sell their full harvest. As climate change continues to impact the communities in Chiapas, the drying beds will come in handy.