SOPACDI is located in Kivu, DRC, an area that has been wracked by ethnic- and gender-based violence that has destroyed the local economy and all but virtually extinguished the coffee sector.
Asociación Civil de Pequeños Productores de Café (The Association of Small Coffee Producers, "Farmers' Hands") is an organization of small-scale coffee producers in the highlands of southwestern Guatemala. The organization was legally formed in 1997 at which time it was comprised of 620 farmers organized in six cooperatives. Today, it brings together 1,073 members organized in seven cooperatives located in the Departments of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu and Solola.
For many years prior to the creation of Manos Campesinas, the Pastoral Team of the Catholic Diocese of Quetzaltenango had been providing technical and organizational support to small-scale coffee producers in the area. The majority of these farmers each own less than 2 1/4 acres of coffee, and so despite all of the technical assistance and support in production, the farmers still lost money when it came time to sell their coffee. Isolated from the markets, and information about the market, coffee producers were forced to sell their coffee to coyotes (middlemen) at unsustainably low prices, leaving them with very little money at the end of the harvest. With this dilemma in mind, Manos Campesinas was formed to commercialize and export its members' coffee.
The primary objective of Manos Campesinas is to satisfy the needs of its members by offering better market alternatives and by giving them marketing support. In addition, they provide technical assistance in the field to increase the quantity and quality of the coffee harvest. Today, the organization also provides technical support to help the farmers diversify their product, convert to organic production, improve the administration of the cooperatives, and promote women's participation.
Each cooperative has an active women's organization. Manos Campesinas supports gender equity by providing training programs which work with the women to build leadership within their organizations. They learn about cooperative structure and the role of the board, and practice concrete skills such as public speaking and administration.
The premiums we receive from fair trade help us send our children to school, and provide food and medicines for our families."
-Carlos Reynoso, General Manager of Manos Campesinas