Last spring, Equal Exchange was honored to host a visit from Santiago Paz, long time friend, trading partner, and co-manager of the Fair Trade coffee co-operative, CEPICAFE in northern Peru. Santiago was on the West Coast and did a number of speaking engagements with community groups and natural foods stores. The following is an excerpt from a talk Santiago gave at Marlene’s Natural Foods Market in Washington. You can read the original article in the October 12th issue of Sound Outlook.
Dear Friends of Fair Trade,
My name is Santiago Paz. I work as co-manager of CEPICAFE –an organization comprised of small producers of coffee, cocoa beans, sugar and fruit juices located in Piura, in the northern part of Peru near the Ecuadorian border. CEPICAFE is composed of 7,000 small producers.
The fair trade market opened the doors to the international market for CEPICAFE. Take the case of coffee as an example. We started with eight tons the first year. Today, CEPICAFE sells about 2,000 tons in the international market annually, which represents significant progress.
The other product that we’re working with is sugar; that is, panela (brown sugar formed into solid shapes). Previously, those who were producing panela, and those who were producing alcohol from the sugar lived in extreme poverty. It was common for them to spend the whole day drinking. In most cases these producers never went to school.
Today, through years of building fair trade cooperatives, these people have become exporting producers of organic products, quality products, fair trade products. The price for their product has gone from three dollars to 40 dollars for 100 pounds of sugar. These producers have a different view of life – they have been trained to produce quality goods, which makes them happy and proud.
At CEPICAFE, we believe in small fair trade production but we can’t function on an island. We’re part of the world market and globalization. In fact, that furthers our commitment to strong, sustainable organizations that are competitive in the modern, international market and the associated organizations and agencies that support and regulate it. Read More here.