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First Fairtrade organic sugar mill
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Fairtrade sugar farmers from the remote Manduvira Cooperative in western Paraguay were celebrating an extraordinary achievement – the ribbon-cutting of the world’s first producer-owned Fairtrade organic sugar mill, Fairtrade International reports (see picture). Manduvira’s new mill will be a boon for the 1,750 member-strong farmers’ organization, which will no longer have to pay to rental and transport costs to another mill, 100 km away along dirt roads. This US$15m (€11m) project was funded through a combination of national and international loans, contributions from the Fairtrade Premium, and the Fairtrade Access Fund.
“This is what we want to see - producers who think big,” said Gustavo Leite, Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade, as he congratulated the producers and cooperative leaders. (Picture: Everything is possible for those who believe). Paraguay’s Vice President, John Eudes Afara Maciel, joined Leite and other government ministers and sugar farmers at the launch of the venture on 24 April 2014. The mill has the capacity to process 200,000 mt of organic sugar cane a year. This figure could potentially treble in the years to come. A profit of US$1 million is predicted for the first year.
The Manduvira Cooperative exports certified organic and Fairtrade sugar to almost 20 countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Latin America, New Zealand and South Korea. Fairtrade staff have worked with the producer group helping it to achieve organic certification and long-term relationships with international clients. “Huge congratulations to Manduvira for taking greater control of the value chain and ensuring benefits remain in its community," said Monika Berresheim-Kleinke, Global Product Manager for Sugar at Fairtrade International, who attended the event alongside more than 2,000 others.
The mill has nearly 200 employees, including farmers’ sons and daughters, who previously had left the area to find work or attend school in the capital, Asuncion, but who have now returned. “The cooperative creates new jobs. This new mill will give new opportunities for members and non-members, really the entire community,” said Teresa Alejandra Pereira, who serves as Executive Secretary of Manduvira and also helps her father manage their 3 hectare farm. The farmers believe the quality of their sugar will also benefit from the new mill with the freshly cut cane arriving sooner for processing than in the past. Bagasse, a by-product of processing sugar, will generate energy for the mill and the cooperative is asking for permission to deliver power to the wider community and beyond. More information is available from Fairtrade International.