Manduvirá Co-operative was Fairtrade certified in 1999. The cooperative creates access to markets for local farmers, enabling them to receive fair prices for their produce.Before the cooperative was Fairtrade certified, its members harvested their sugar cane then sold it to a local mill for processing. By 2014, they had gained the knowledge and skills to build their own mill to process the cane into sugar and export it directly themselves. The cooperative now exports almost all of its annual production of 20,000 tonnes of sugar to Fairtrade clients in 18 countries.
For Manduvirá, an important element of Fairtrade is the option for advance payment of 60 per cent of sales contracts. This enables the cooperative to finance production and pay farmers without taking out expensive bank loans.
A share of the Fairtrade Premium is distributed equally among members to invest in farm improvements or home improvements such as indoor bathrooms. Business and community projects that have been financed with the Fairtrade Premium funds include:
- A new health centre, with a medical team, dentist, optician and laboratory services. It is available to the whole community, and the only one in the region.
- School uniforms and kits containing pencils, notebooks, rucksacks. Courses for children in computers, languages, art, music, and dance.
- Running a savings and credit scheme.
- Agricultural support and training services.
- Purchase of a tractor and plough that cooperative members can hire at a third of the market rate.