The federation of small bio agri-exporters in the south of Ecuador, or APEOSAE, is a second-degree cooperative created in 2006 to provide better commercial alternatives for coffee, cocoa, bananas and other agricultural products from the farms of its members. APEOSAE commercialised certified bio and fair trade products. Due to the structural limitation to the collection, transformation and commercialisation of their products, the APEOSAE could not break even. To deal with its environment’s challenges, the APEOSAE diversified its plantations by applying agroforestry principles. Synergies among coffee, banana and cacao have proved a valuable alternative.
After 2012, the cooperation lowered its activity due to the decrease in production and the increase in plant diseases. Three primary causes were identified as the source of the low output, quality and productivity:
– The lack of soil management capabilities
– Soil degradation
– Ageing farming population
The Trade for Development Centre agreed with the APEOSAE to work on the reinforcement of market access thanks to a fair and sustainable process. To do so, the TDC provided financial support to increase the revenue and living standards of the members of the APEOSAE thanks to the associative commercialisation of coffee and cacao on the fair trade market.
The result of that project, called ‘Collect hope in south Amazonia’ had a substantial direct and indirect impact on production, quality and productivity thanks to the community’s technicians’ colossal investment. A strong baseline for commercialisation was also established thanks to the acquisition of new production structures and infrastructure that meet the cooperative’s new entrant’s needs. The renewal of the certifications and a new workforce were a turning point for increasing the farmers’ living standards. The transparency provided by the APEOSAE stakeholders inside and outside the federation has positively impacted the promotion of a sustainable business model.
Today, the business model of the APEOSAE revolves around the transformation and commercialisation of banana, cacao and coffee for the national and international market thanks to bio and fair trade certification. That business model provides durability for the business and sustainability for the farmers.