Today, we learned about how a cooperative coffee industry (Dota) operates and produces. Their process is very different than any other plantation we visited. A cooperative is much like a big cooperation of the whole community. There are surely advantages and disadvantages to a process like so.
The cooperative serves as an advantage to the community because it creates more of a team work aspect and unites the community. It gives a livelihood to 900 farmers within the community. This allows smaller farms and families to produce coffee without owning a large scale business. The requirement is only one hector and must be good growing conditions. There’s not as much pressure and reliance on the smaller operations because it only makes up a little bit of Dota. Without this company, I think many people would have to work under a plantation or find a different source of income. Some individuals may not have enough money to produce more than one hector of coffee.
The Dota industry is a big part of the Santa María de Dota community. Without them, the area may not be as cohesive and functional. They provide resources for the community. A few examples are their senior center for aging people and sponsoring school and athletic program. As we saw today, the Dota company is more than just a coffee producer. The cafe and restaurant we visited is just as much of a social experience. Although many ticos don’t harvest the coffee (>.5%), they still find ways to be involved in the community. One of the ways is going to barista school, like we learned about today. This offers them a more educated and higher paying job than being a picker.
The company may be at a disadvantage with functioning as a cooperative because they’re reliant on small farms to produce their livelihood. Although they have procedures and routine checks, the quality control probably isn’t the same. The can’t survey the conditions as closely or predict issues like crop disease. The guide also stated that they must send out trucks to more rural locations to collect coffee from small farms. This adds additional costs to the company as opposed to harvesting it in their backyard. Contracting new farms and also letting some go also could lead to more complication.
I, personally, really favored this style of coffee plantation the most. I believe it’s a great thing for the community and unites them instead of forcing them to compete. It directs them towards one common goal. It also produces a variety of coffee that’s all mixed together, more authenticity. It would be cool to know that your small farm is apart of something bigger and it gives back to the community.