The Cooperative "Producers’ Union Maya Vinic" is comprised of some 500 coffee farming families located in 38 highland communities in the municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico. Each member has an average of one hectare and produces an average of 400 kilos of coffee from each plot. Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Maya Vinic is organized and operates in keeping with a respect of local culture, language, reverence for the Mother Earth and traditional forms of self-government.
Maya Vinic was born out the wider civil society "Las Abejas”, an organized response to the prevalent injustice in their communities and in the hopes of promoting positive change and autonomous development by pacific means. The plight of their communities came to the public eye in the aftermath of the infamous Acteal Massacre, where 45 men, women and children were killed by paramilitary forces and thousands more displaced from their homes.
The organizational structure of Maya Vinic holds a General Assembly as its maximum authority. An Assembly of Community Delegates works in close conjunction with the Producers’ Board of Directors to accomplish the tasks assigned to the Education, Technical Assistance, Marketing, Administration and local Arbitration and Problem Resolution Committees.
[Rep at Polho] Coffee production is nothing new to the farmers of this region. “Recruited” since the arrival of the plantations in the early 1900s as poorly paid hired hands during the harvest, they learned about production and processing, and the wealth that coffee had made for a fortunate few. Soon, seeds began trickling back to the Highland communities of Chiapas.
Farmers eventually were able to organize themselves into producer cooperatives in search of more equitable markets. In keeping with this legacy, Maya Vinic has recently been accepted to the FLO register and is in the second year of organic certification. Cooperative Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2001.
In order to be able to offer a consistently high-quality coffee, raised with care and dignity, the coop offers educational and capacity-building activities focused on sustainable farming techniques and the importance of a strong social economy. As a collective initiative to improve the living situations of their farmers, Maya Vinic understands that in addition to providing a greater economic benefit, the coop works for the dignity and fair treatment of its members through coffee production and marketing.
Visit Maya Vinic's website here!
Geographic Location: Located in the highlands of Chiapas (Acteal) -- Varietals: Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo -- Altitude: 900 - 1400 meters
The Unión de Ejidos y Comunidades San Fernando S.P.R. was constituted in July 2012, with the objective of grouping associations of independent smallholders to sell their product directly to international buyers, avoiding intermediaries. In the beginning they produced conventional (non-organic) coffee. As the organization matured however, they started considering which were the most adequate mechanisms to achieve the prime objectives of the organization. In addition to selling coffee, the Union wanted to elevate the social and economic conditions of producers and their communities while caring for the environment and conserving natural and non-renewable resources. It was in this sense that the organization began to transition from traditional production systems to organics.
Today, the Unión de Ejidos y Comunidades San Fernando is one of the most consolidated social enterprises in Chiapas, grouping more than 1,300 smallholder families, owning an average of two coffee dedicated hectares each. They are located in the municipios in the economic zones in the Centro, Frailesca and Sierra regions of the state of Chiapas. For the cultivation of coffee, they utilize techniques that are harmonious with nature, utilizing organic-approved insecticides and fertilizers elaborated at home.
The members have worked for years in the establishment of a brand and the building of a domestic market for high quality Chiapan coffee. They launched their own brand of roasted and ground coffee Biocafé which has enjoyed enormous success throughout the years, and currently is one of the best known brands of coffee in the region. As a small farmer organization their mission is to improve the livelihoods of its member communities through good agricultural practice and the commercialization of coffee and other organic agricultural produce.
Geographic Location: Located in the Centro, Frailesca and Sierra regions of Chiapas -- Varietals: Typica, Mundo Novo, Bourbón, Caturra, Catuaí, MaragoGype, and Catimor -- Altitude: 950 - 1700 meters
*Information courtesy of Union San Fernando through Cooperative Coffees
Yeni Navan started as a small organization regrouping organic coffee producers from various ethnic groups. Their name, Michiza, is an abbreviation of these five groups: Mixtecos, Chinantecos, Chatinos, Cuicatecos and Zapotecos. The farmers hoped that through the organization they would be able to stop the local intermediaries from manipulating the local price of coffee and exploiting them in the process.
Initially, they sold their coffee only on the local market. In 1989, the organization obtained legal status under the name Yeni Navan, and they had the authorization to export. By 1991, they were capable of exporting independently.
MICHIZA offers technical support to its members to improve their capacity in organic agriculture and overall coffee quality and yields. MICHIZA is also responsible for marketing and the direct export of their members` coffee. In addition, they are in a constant process of promoting women`s participation in their decision-making, the impact of which is noted in the number of women who are members.
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Geographic Location: Located in the regions of Oaxaca -- Varietals: Arabica: Typica, Caturra -- Altitude: 900 - 1800 meters