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Ecuadorian Fair Trade Producer Representative in Malta

Koperattiva Kummerc Gust
invites you to a public talk with
Luz Maria Cuadrado Martinez
from MCCH, Ecuador
this Monday, 19 May at 6pm
Dar Manwel Magri, Tal-Qroqq

Luz María Cuadrado Martínez is the co-director of MCCH, a Fair Trade Producers' Organization from Ecuador. MCCH stands for "Maquita Cushunchic Comercializando como Hermanos" and means "Let us join hands and trade as brothers".

Luz María will be delivering a short presentation about her organization in Spanish and but will be translated to English at Dar Manwel Magri Tal-Qroqq next Monday at 6pm. On Monday morning she will be meeting school girls and delivering a short presentation to them at Magret Mortimer Junior Lyceeum, Santa Lucia.

About MCCH


Cocoa Farming in Ecuador
Though small farmers are the foundation of the world economy, most do not participate directly in the marketing process or know whether they are getting a fair price for what they produce. This is because smallholders' farms are typically located far from marketing centers and they do not have the resources to transport their crops themselves. These farmers have no choice but to rely on middlemen who usually offer below-market prices and charge exorbitant fees for their services. As a result, small farmers receive just a fraction of already low world export prices. In addition, small farmer communities are generally located far from many essential social and educational services and have difficulty accessing them.

Jose Antonio Santos, commercial director of MCCH, explains: "When farmers harvest the cocoa they have to leave the village for a full day to sell their produce and buy basic products to take back home. But when they arrive to sell the cocoa, after walking for eight or nine hours, the traders tell them that the price has dropped. He'll say: 'I'll pay you half. If you don't want to sell, take the cocoa away.' The farmer has to sell, or return home with nothing for his family."

Luckily, things are different for cooperatives in the Fair Trade system such as Maquita Cushunchic Comercializando como Hermanos (MCCH) in Ecuador. Fair Trade has offered these farmers stability and self-sufficiency because it ensures a minimum price of $.80/pound under long-term contracts, access to credit, and prohibits abusive child labor and forced labor. Fair Trade farmers are required to reserve a portion of their revenues for social projects, ensuring that community development and technical training for farmers will always be possible. Fair Trade also promotes environmentally sustainable practices such as shade cultivation, composting, and minimization of chemical inputs, ensuring that farmers use cultivation techniques that are safe for the environment and public health.

The Beginnings of MCCH
MCCH was founded in 1984 and joined the Fair Trade system in 1985. MCCH, which means "Let's shake each others' hand and trade as brothers," was started by church communities who wanted to promote positive social change for marginalized populations and provide producers with a stable way to meet their basic needs. It encompasses four project areas: social development, education programs, building social and political influence to promote structural change, and socially oriented businesses.

MCCH Principles and Organization
MCCH is based on the principles of fair trade, transparency, honesty and participation. Its goals are to strengthen small-scale producers through increased commercialization, quality, [common cropping?], and direct exportation. Members participate in decision making through a monthly provincial assembly and meetings that are based in communities and buying centers. The cooperative also has a 6-person elected board with two producer representatives. MCCH holds Annual Assemblies to inform members of new developments in the organization as a whole. MCCH's membership includes around 800 small cocoa farmers whose cocoa is marketed through MCCH's export company Agroexportadora Maquita (Maquita). Most of the farmers also grow other crops for the local market and home consumption. MCCH has set up local farmer organizations for cocoa commercialization in some areas and sent its own buyer to purchase cocoa in other areas. In addition, MCCH announces its prices and uses an open system of weighing and grading the beans to ensure that farmers get a fair price.

Cocoa Production in Maquita
Though cocoa is not Ecuador's most important product, many families in Maquita depend on its export revenues and MCCH has become the second biggest cocoa exporter from the country. The cooperative's business success is especially noteworthy because
Ecuador is facing significant economic challenges. It is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, has a largeforeign debt, and experienced a severe recession with currency devaluation in 2000. Maquita has worked hard to earn the trust of European manufacturers, who generally avoid direct trade due to the potentially high costs of late or failed deliveries. This has resulted in the establishment of direct long-term contracts, which are critical tto continued success for struggling producers such as these.

Maquita and the Fair Trade Market
Maquita is fortunate to have established many of their contracts under Fair Trade terms. Maquita members produced 1,000 tons of cocoa in 1999 and sold 65.4 tons at Fair Trade prices. Fair Trade sales have brought a significant increase in revenues for Maquita's members In 1999, Maquita members received an average of $1,156 per tonne, while conventional cocoa farmers received $965 per tonne. MCCH producers also receive higher proportions of the export price than conventional farmers: 70% versus 60%.

Benefits of Fair Trade
Fair Trade revenues have allowed Maquita to establish many important agricultural and social programs. "We don't just try to raise the income of the person, but we aim to raise their whole development," says Jose Antonio Santos. One exemplary program is the
Farmers School, a special three-year training program designed to increase cocoa farmers' general knowledge, improve quality and productivity, and promote renovation. This seems to be very effective- total yields rose from 500 tons of cocoa in 1998 to 1,000 tons in 1999. Fair Trade premiums have also been used to support the transition to organic production, and this continues to be a priority for the cooperative. In addition, locally based social and educational programs focused on health care, gender, and the environment have been instituted. Here, Fair Trade has made a critical difference in the because it has brought social services to community members who previously lived too far away from such programs to access them as needed.

Maquita's members realize how Fair Trade has benefited farmers and their communities. Demesio Intriago, President of Association La Mercedes de Poza Honda (a MCCH beneficiary) said: "In our association we have learned a lot from MCCH. They didn't just come to buy cocoa, they have trained us as well. Recently our village received a visit from a doctor and this is appreciated very much, since this kind of service is hard to find in the remote area where we live."

Future Plans for MCCH
MCCH continues to expand its operations and reach for high levels of success. For example, MCCH is working increase its cocoa operations by forming a new organization called "Red Latinoamericana de Pequeños Productores de Cacao," which would unite cooperatives across Latin America and foster the transfer of technical and commercial knowledge. So long as they remain in the Fair Trade system, MC

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Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust Ltd

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