Sugar from Paraguay
Sugar from Paraguay
The Manduvirá cooperative was founded in 1975 with the aim of supporting small producers with the sale of cane sugar, thereby contributing to a secure future. Life in the isolated region around the village of Arroyos y Esteros in south-western Paraguay is difficult, the farms are very small and incomes insecure. Parcels of land are divided up repeatedly into smaller plots in order to be able to sustain all descendants of a given family.
Certification by Fairtrade in 1999 has made an enormous contribution to the economic development of the Manduvirá cooperative. Direct contact with importers and improved access to market information have considerably boosted the bargaining power of the cooperative.
In recent years, the sugar growers in the Manduvirá cooperative have built their own production facility for organic and Fairtrade-certified sugar. It went into operation in 2014. This 15-million-dollar project was financed by money from the Fairtrade bonus, with the aid of national and international loans and the support of the Fairtrade Access Fund.
Now that they have their own sugar mill, the sugar growers no longer need to undertake the 100-km transport route along dusty roads to the next processing plant and pay the high fees demanded for use of the facility.
The mill employs nearly 200 people, including young people who had previously moved to the capital Asunción out of a lack of perspectives and have since returned home again.
Community projects strengthen the cooperative
Since Fairtrade certification in 1999, the cooperative members profit from guaranteed minimum prices and payment of the Fairtrade bonus. From this money they have not only built their own sugar mill, but have also realised several other social projects in the community. They decided to pay out part of the income from the Fairtrade bonus in cash to members. This makes it possible to tide members over between harvests when their incomes are low.
Furthermore, funds from the Fairtrade bonus paid for a new office building with a clinic and a community hall. The health project has significantly improved medical care for local residents and, on top of that, has considerably strengthened the importance of the cooperative within the community. The cooperative pays the wages of a general practitioner, two dentists and two medics and funds a medical laboratory. Twenty per cent of the cost of medical examinations incurred have to be met by the cooperative members themselves. Non-members pay a little more, but this option is nevertheless readily used, to avoid having to undertake the 90-minute journey to Asunción.
Additional funds from the Fairtrade bonus were used in particular to renovate cooperative members’ houses and to safeguard the supply of drinking water. A tractor was also bought, which may be used by all members.