On the 7th of August, 2010, about 50 members assisted the second General Assembly of ACOPOC, the new association of coffee farmers working with Amigos International and the Escoffee brand. The association aims to professionalize the coffee production and services to its members and surrounding communities. ACOPOC stands for ‘Asociación artesanal de productores y Comercializadores Orgánicos de Paltas, Olmedo y Chaguarpamba’.
New members inscribe and are congratulated by provisional president Miriam Maldonado.
The members discussed the low harvest this year due to late rains and frost in some high communities (Lobongo, Olmedo). More structural is the problem of low productivity in general. General manager Angelino Abad addressed this by stressing the need to rejuvenate plantations by planting seedlings. A nursery of 200.000 plants, pre-financed by Amigos International, was shown to the members. Members can purchase the plants at cost (10 dollar-cents) in order to maintain – but preferably increase – the size of the nursery.
Even though the association is not Fair trade certified yet, Amigos pledged to already pay the Fair trade premium towards the Social Fund, and members decided that most necessary were communal tanks of ‘biol’; liquid organic manure for fertilization purposes. Fumigation with ‘biol’ also prevents frost, which was a contributing factor toward the low yield in harvest this year. Jeroen also mentioned that the Fair trade mark was something the association deserved, as it had been receiving Fair trade prices and social projects (pulping machines, nursery) since 2005 and that the mark would increase Amigos’ ability to sell more of the association’s coffee.
Preparing for the registration of ACOPOC at the Ministry of Industries and Productivity (MIPRO), the Statutes and Constitutional Act were updated with the aid of ACOPOC’s secretary-in-training Julisa Abad, ACOPOC’s local lawyer Nivaldo Jiménez, and Amigos International’s Jeroen Kruft. At 22:00, thirteen hours after opening the Assembly, the working day was finally done and the walk home under the star-spangled night sky of Olmedo felt good!