Fair trade is our prize
Comarca No. 6., San Juan del Río Coco, Nicaragua
There’s no lack of water in the Río Coco. In this tropical zone it rains from May through November. It takes four and a half hours to reach the provincial capital from Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. The Comarca Número 6 located here is where don Heriberto Altamirano and doña Elena Herrera live with their six children. The youngest is two years old while the older ones are already at university.
Don Heriberto is an organic farmer very proud of his organization and his work. He combines organic coffee production with apiculture, fruit and vegetable production for domestic consumption.
One of the most important tasks is soil conservation: it a form of life on his farm, it provides nutrients for the forest and his coffee. This production model also contributes to mitigate climate change.
He is the family member who spends most time on the land, although his children help when they are available. “The most important is that I protect the environment by producing in an environmentally friendly manner, and give life to the soil without mistreating it, and will thus have a farm for my children and my grandchildren.” His greatest wish is to share his knowledge with his children: “When I leave this world my children will know how to run the farm”.
Don Heriberto is a straight forward person, but very courageous when having to take decisions at critical times, as he himself concedes: “I am a person who takes things seriously, I analyze and share them with my wife and children, as it’s important to take the family into consideration. When I thought of producing in an ecologically-friendly manner, people said I was crazy. They said the farm wouldn’t produce enough quintals for us to live off and generate a profit. But I showed them that it was indeed possible. Things or objectives can be achieved when you put your mind to it.”
Heriberto Altamirano and his family play an important role in the organization. They are an example to follow in the Cooperative 17 de Octubre that is part of PRODECOOP. Heriberto thinks that many things can be achieved with a bit of organization and he understands the cooperative movement very well. The organization has been a great school for him. Through the organization he has learned to produce organically, to diversify and share experiences. It is the organization that has enabled him to commercialize his produce in a manner that is fair while stabilizing his family’s economic situation. “That’s why I take care of my organization. My contribution has been combative. I have very clear ideas on creating awareness among my friends and thus fight to keep the cooperative going, that has taken time and sacrifice ... it falls on me to motivate my friends to join and change their lives and improve that of their families. For example, in my case, since I’ve been organized my life has taken a turn for the better. It’s not the same being on one’s own as being accompanied by people who have the same needs”, he comments.
“Fair trade plays a very important role in that it drives us in our work. In other words it rewards us; fair trade was created for small producers as it takes into consideration social and environmental aspects of our environment as smallholders.”