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Showing posts tagged “Chile”

Brown or Yellow raisins? That is the question

The family farmers at Mi Fruta, a Fairtrade cooperative in Chile, never doubted their brown, sun-dried, natural raisins until Italian importer Chico Mendes Modena came in search of suppliers. The farmers were so excited at the possibility of a sale that they didn’t bother to inquire what type of raisins the importer wanted to buy.

Which is why they were surprised when the importer told them that they were interested in yellow raisins.

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The producers at Mi Fruta do not produce yellow raisins preferring to maintain their sun-drying system. Though sun drying darkens the raisins, it uses free and natural energy from the sun and requires no additives to preserve it.

They realized they would need to convince the buyers with the positive qualities of the brown raisin. They discovered that yellow raisins have that color because they are treated with sulfur dioxide, which allow them to keep their yellow color. However, as indicated by the Codex Alimentarius, it’s not possible to consider raisins as natural if they have been treated this way.

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Valeria Bigliazzi, from Chico Mendes Modena Cooperative, took this information with her back to Italy to motivate her buyers to choose brown raisins over the yellow ones. A few weeks later, the producers received word that the importer was able to convince their buyers with these arguments and the brown raisins were purchased. A purchasing plan has been established for this year and the raisins are being sold as snack, as well as ingredients for oven-prepared bakery, such as pastry and panettone.

The same importers are also buying Chilean walnuts, from Agronuez, another Fairtrade association of family farmers that have an exceptional quality, as well as the advantage of availability during the off season for walnuts in Europe.

Omar Valdés is a member of COASABA honey cooperative. We got to see part of his beautiful work, with his beehives and those of his father. Omar Valdés doesn’t own land, so he rents a small piece of property in the outskirts of the city of Santa Bárbara, in the town of Los Mayo. This allows him to leave his bees with access to plenty of food and fresh water, but at the same time it is close to his home. When asked how he thinks his life would be without the cooperative Mr. Omar says: 

My life wouldn’t be the same, neither for my family nor for the region’s beekeeping.

Fairtrade International’s Liaison Officer Ingrid Allende joined COASBA honey cooperative in Chile for their general assembly. The election process was a chance for producers to talk about their organization and their reasons for becoming a cooperative. Read more here…

Omar Valdés is a member of COASABA honey cooperative. We got to see part of his beautiful work, with his beehives and those of his father. Omar Valdés doesn’t own land, so he rents a small piece of property in the outskirts of the city of Santa Bárbara, in the town of Los Mayo. This allows him to leave his bees with access to plenty of food and fresh water, but at the same time it is close to his home. When asked how he thinks his life would be without the cooperative Mr. Omar says: 

My life wouldn’t be the same, neither for my family nor for the region’s beekeeping.


Fairtrade International’s Liaison Officer Ingrid Allende joined COASBA honey cooperative in Chile for their general assembly. The election process was a chance for producers to talk about their organization and their reasons for becoming a cooperative. Read more here…

A sweet trip to the capital of honey continues…Mr. Luis Villarroel Iraira (61), the new elected president of COASBA honey cooperative, has recognized an improvement in his quality of life and that of the producers since they joined Fairtrade. 

“To be part of this cooperative”, he says, “it is necessary to be loyal, to respect the partners and to love the cooperative”.

This has been the key that has kept them together, despite everything. The cooperative is a member of Chile’s national network of beekeepers and prides itself on high technical and sanitary standards. “It is our own business”, adds Iraira with a smile, regarding what has been accomplished throughout the years.
Fairtrade International’s Liaison Officer Ingrid Allende joined COASBA honey cooperative in Chile for their general assembly. The election process was a chance for producers to talk about their organization and their reasons for becoming a cooperative. Read more here…

A sweet trip to the capital of honey continues…

Mr. Luis Villarroel Iraira (61), the new elected president of COASBA honey cooperative, has recognized an improvement in his quality of life and that of the producers since they joined Fairtrade. 

“To be part of this cooperative”, he says, “it is necessary to be loyal, to respect the partners and to love the cooperative”.

This has been the key that has kept them together, despite everything. The cooperative is a member of Chile’s national network of beekeepers and prides itself on high technical and sanitary standards.

“It is our own business”, adds Iraira with a smile, regarding what has been accomplished throughout the years.

Fairtrade International’s Liaison Officer Ingrid Allende joined COASBA honey cooperative in Chile for their general assembly. The election process was a chance for producers to talk about their organization and their reasons for becoming a cooperative. Read more here…

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….

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