Today we ended our coffee plantation visits with Coopedota, a cooperative structured coffee company. Coopedota unlike the other places we visited was more like a community. The business had a board of directors who appointed a general manager for to oversee the company. A cooperative means that company has members which in the coffee business means that had many different farm owners choose to join their company and allow them to mill and roast the coffee they grow.
A cooperative can have both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is the benefits the cooperative brings to the community. Cooperative allows outreach programs to form at local schools and instruction classes for those interested in becoming part of the coffee industry for anything from a barista to a roaster. A cooperative is also nice because once the farmers drop the beans off to Coopedota, they are taken care off by Coopedota. Also members that join the cooperative have to pay a fee at the start but they are given back this money if they ever decide to leave the cooperative. Coopedota also has every step available for the coffee beans at their location from picking to packaging so therefore farmers know the company is knowlegdable about the process as a whole. Also, members are payed a partial payment when they deliver their product and then the rest of the money is given to them throughout the year almost like a salary.
There are however some disadvantages for a cooperative. For example, a farm that is 3 hectors is treated the same as a farm that is 300 hectors. Farmer’s sometimes get angry because they believe because they own a larger amount of land they should receive more benefits. Another downside is when farmers join as a member, they are only allowed to sell their products to Coopedota and not to any other coffee companies.
If the community of Santa Maria de Dota did not all participate in the Coopedota cooperative, they would be very different. The children in the area would be less likely to join the coffee industry and have less means and help to get the positions they want. The community would also be more competitive because they would not have equal treatment and therefore would be more likely to try and get ahead or sabatoge one another in order to make a profit for their farm.