Producer Profile – Paraguay Sugar
Name Cooperativa de Producción Agro-Industrial Manduvirá Ltda Established 1975 Fairtrade Certified Since 1999 Members 1,050 Background Life for farmers is tough here as the region is remote and isolated, farms are small and incomes are unreliable. The aim of the co-op is to support its members in marketing their sugar cane and other crops and provide a range of services such as credit and savings facilities, welfare programs, technical support and agricultural training.
As well as sugar cane, members also grow oranges, grapefruit, bananas, melon, pineapple, manioc, maize, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts for home consumption or for sale on the local market. Access to marketing opportunities in the region is limited by the poor condition of local dirt roads. The lack of a reliable income has forced many farmers in the area to sell their land and move to cities in search of work. There is also growing pressure from powerful soy farmers who are rapidly purchasing land in neighbouring areas.
Impact of Fairtrade
The engagement with Fairtrade has contributed enormously to the economic development of the co-operative. The Fairtrade premium benefits the wider community as well as Manduvirá’s members.
Use of the Fairtrade Premium
Fairtrade premium has been used for:
- Cash bonus to members: 50% of the Fairtrade premium as a cash payment to bridge the gap between harvests when members’ incomes are at their lowest. This pays for food, other household needs, and education costs.
- Clinic and community hall for 100 people. The co-operative pays for a doctor, two dentists, two medics, and for laboratory analysis – before this there was only one doctor for the whole region.
- Repair or improve members’ houses and roofs
- Replace latrines with newly-built bathrooms and toilets
- Improve access to running water
- Purchase computers for the co-op offices
- Purchase a tractor for use by all members
Cooperativism is now a well-established concept in Paraguay, especially within the sugar sector. Thanks to strong organizational development and support from the international Fair Trade movement, six Fair Trade organic sugar cooperatives and associations have begun forming a new trade organization: the Federation of Fair Trade Paraguayan Organic Sugar Producers. Together they will represent their interests to the Paraguayan government and to the international Fair Trade movement. Their goal is to use their collective power to mobilize international resources to develop their businesses and support their communities