Organica was born in the early 2000s after a social “leader’s march” where leaders of the municipio of El Tambo (the third largest by area in all of Colombia) protested to the government the lack of infrastructure and resources, demanding construction of better roads, an aqueduct and schools. At this time the FNC’s “Cooperativa de Caficultores del Cauca” approached Nelson Melo, who had already been manager of COSURCA, to start an organic program in the local FNC cooperative. In 2001 they organized the first group of members to begin the organic transition process. By 2003 they were formally incorporated as an association, separate of the FNC and by 2004 they obtained their organic certification, spanning the municipios of Popayan, Timbio,Tambo and Piendamo.
They’ve been developing their philosophy of autonomy with a strong focus on quality production, claiming to be the only organization in Cauca who was talking about quality production as early as 2004. Their focus on quality was further propelled by their commercial partnership with Alejandro Cadena and his company, the exporter Virmax/Caravela. Through the exporter they were able to develop direct commercial relations with roasters as well as receive support and guidance to set up their internal quality systems. They also strive to keep a very lean organization, with 97% of price received for coffee from exporters going to the producer’s pocket. The rest goes to pay taxes and an accountant. Nelson Melo volunteers his time and doesn’t claim a salary.
Organica is composed of a tightly knit group of 104 friends and neighbours, organized into 13 groups spanning over 60.58 hectares of certified production across four municipios. Each group is considered an “experience exchange and quality control group” that convenes periodically to discuss matters of production and quality control. The internal control system for their organic production is conducted by these groups. Members meet regularly, holding a general assembly every quarter to discuss different aspects of their business. Four common denominators join the members of Organica: unity, a commitment to transparency, commitment to democracy and commitment to quality and hold two main priorities: 1) to improve the quality of life for the families 2) to improve the quality of the coffee.
To advance their work, the association focuses on five “axes” of action:
Developing resilience against climate change
Promoting participation of the children of members
Maintaining quality production
Recovering quality of soils
Setting up community “Biofabricas”, or organic composting and fertilizer manufacture facilities.
They have also identified SPP as a method of “developing quality integrally”: through it they can establish a relationship with a network of solidarity buyers and producers that have a different vision of development.
Tasting Profile: Balanced and structured with lemon, lime, brown sugar and carob.
Social Premium Investment: 2019 Crop YearFair Trade Certification guarantees 20 cents/lb of the price paid a producer organization is set aside as a social premium. How this money is invested is a decision taken collectively by the general assembly of members at the end of each harvest. Below is a break down of how producers in this organization chose to spend their fair trade premium.
Additional IncomeQuality premium paid to farmers.
Community DevelopmentRotating credit fund in order to support farm investment such as infrastructure, fertilization, area expansion and renovation.
Improve YieldsPurchase of organic materials for fertilizer