Cooperative Costa Rica

Coopedota in the Santa Maria de Dota community relays heavily on cooperatives. Cooperatives are when multiple small companies in a nearby area come together to agree on set bargaining prices for their coffee and share their resources and expertise with one another.

Companies pay a membership to be a part of the cooperative, but if they choice to leave they receive their money back. At Coopedota they have found many companies have chosen to stay due to the many advantages of a cooperation such as a community, the economy, and the environment. The biggest advantage is the sense of a community. For smaller farms, it is harder for them to make a name for their coffee and to test new methods, but as a part of the cooperative they have a bank of knowledge relative to their area. The cooperation also allows them to better price and market as a whole, boosting their economic intake. The farms are paid a portion of the proceeds to start and at the end of the season when the final price has been settled  they recieve the rest, where a normal buyer would keep this extra money for themselves. Being paid over time also provides stability for the farms income. Cooperatives also support Costa Rica’s environmental push. It is not good for there to be too many mills, farms, or roasters in one area because they result in the same byproducts. The farms are also incensed to keep their farm sustainable. Coopedota is not organic, but they are carbon neutral and have been for 6 years now. The Rainforest Alliance also offers the farmers incentives for meeting standards on their farm of sustainable and ecofriendly. Despite the communal, economic, and environmental advantages of a cooperative some farms do not want to be a part of one.

Farmers with larger farms sometimes feel unequal because they believe they are contributing more so they deserve to have more of a say in the decisions. In a cooperation, a farm that is 3 hectors has the same say as a farm with 30 hectors of land. They do contribute more products but the idea of a cooperative is that they have an equal say so that one company cannot monopolize the market. Larger farms may also not like to be a part of a cooperation because then they can only sell their beans to the cooperation but as a large farm they wouldd have an easier time getting their name out and they could find a better buyer. Many small farms enjoy being a part of a cooperation because of the community and equality they receive.

In the cooperative in Santa Maria de Dota 900 farmers have come together to form a cooperative in the Tarrazu region. Coopedota told us that many of the farms liked being a part of the cooperation. If the cooperative in Santa Maria de Dota collapsed there would be a drop in coffee sales. In Monteverde when the cooperative went under many of the farms went out of business and turned to tourism. Then the land was just left unattended so it became the responsibility of the farmers who were still in business to take care of it. A similar situation may occur in Santa Maria de Dota if the cooperative were to collapse which would hurt the community economically, socially, and environmentally.

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