Producers of Just Us! Fair Trade Organic Sugar
Manduvirá co-operative, founded in 1975, is located in the village of Arroyos y Esteros (Streams and Swamps) in the southwest of Paraguay. Life for farmers is tough here as the region is remote and isolated, farms are small and incomes are unreliable. The plots of land they own are constantly being divided into smaller and smaller plots because farming families want to have at least a small piece of land to hand down to each of their children.
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 programmes, technical support and agricultural training. The growth in membership of Manduvirá has been rapid – rising from under 200 initially to over 1,000 in 2006 – testament to the success of the organisation in supporting local farmers.
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. Many also keep pigs and chickens. However, access to marketing opportunities in the region is limited by the poor condition of local dirt roads, although the journey time to the important markets in the capital city of Asunción has been reduced following completion of the new highway, Ruta 3, in 2003. 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.
Name: Cooperativa de Producción Agro-Industrial Manduvirá Ltda
Location: Southwest Paraguay
Number of Members: 1,050