A sweet trip to the capital of honey – Part 1
In an area of widespread poverty thirty five beekeepers got together in 1994 and founded the association COASBA. During Liaison Officer Ingrid Allende’s visit, the cooperative celebrated its general assembly, where they chose the new board. The election was a chance to talk about what the producers think about their organization and their reasons for becoming a cooperative.
COASBA - Cooperativa Apicola Santa Bárbara - is located in the city of Santa Bárbara, a city that was declared the capital of honey in Chile. Being Fairtrade certified beekeepers is a matter of pride for their members, as the sign outside their cooperative shows:
Orgullosos productores de miel certificada Cormecio Justo Fairtrade - Proud producers of honey certified by Fairtrade.
The most obvious benefit of Fairtrade for COASBA is better incomes for the producers. Since joining Fairtrade the beekeepers are earning 20% more for their honey. Each COASBA member has a regular guaranteed income, which enables them to plan.
The Fairtrade Premium is also an important incentive for the partners. COASBA has invested some of the Premium in improving production processes and for administration, which has created several new jobs. COASBA also has built its own processing facilities and has improved the people’s standard of living. In a region where rural poverty is widespread, family finances are far better than before. Crucially, the younger generation can see a future in beekeeping and in running a coop, rather than joining the exodus of young rural unemployed to the bigger towns and cities. COASBA also recently began to provide advisory services for local beekeepers outside the coop, along with programmes in basic beekeeping for the local municipality.
More to come on COASBA soon….