The CCDA and Fair Trade

Fair trade is not charity.

It is a form of international cooperation in which both the north and the south can work together to promote a better future.

"The way that the coffee system functions is injust because it leaves the producer with very little, without taking into account the value of waking up very early, cutting coffee cherries all day, and carrying 100 pound sacks large distances."

Julián Marcelo Sabuc, a member of the CCDA team

"But fair trade is different"

says Marcelo Sabuc.

"It is an alternative economic system that allows small scale producers to be more involved in the final sale of their coffee, and ensures fair prices and social benefits."

Coffee cooperatives who succeed in accessing the fair trade market, become comfortable and which leads them to distance themselves from social struggles.

This is problematic, especially in countries like Guatemala where the social system is deficient and unjust.

The Fair trade system of the CCDA

With the CCDA the profits from the sale of coffee work as a tool to confront the most systemic global problems that exist in the country.

CCDA members receive:

  • Access to credit
  • Scholarships for their children
  • Support and accompaniment in the legal process to gain land
  • Various levels of financial assistance to improve their living conditions and technical assistance to improve the production of coffee

This strategy is more holistic and so is more effective at bringing about a socio-economic justice to the country.

Certification Process and Obstacles for Small Scale Producers

CCDA members have been educating themselves for three years.

In 2001, when they decided to explore the certification process, they contacted the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) in El Salvador. FLO is the international organization in Bonn, Germany, that works as a independent certifying and verifying body to ensure that a long term fair trade relationship exists between the producers and importers.

When the CCDA contacted FLO, they were told that FLO already had too many cooperatives applying and that a majority of the ones that had already been certified could not find an international market and for that reason the registration was shut down

FLO also told them to certify their coffee as organic since the demand for certified fair trade coffee wasn't as large without the organic certification.

So, from the profits earned through the fair trade relationship, the CCDA has been able to invest in organic certification. Currently the CCDA has 77 producers certified as "organic in transition" with the expectation of completing the certification process in 2005.

The CCDA is again facing a large obstacle in its search for justice for its members. As a result, they began to speak with their international friends and solidarity relationships to find alternatives.

No new cooperative would be able to be certified as fair trade until the market or the demand grew.

The CCDA has 77 producers certified as "organic in transition"


Solidarity Market

The secret of the increased success of the CCDA has been its focus on grassroots cooperation with international friends. Within an unjust system of earning through exploiting, solidarity groups like BC CASA (British Columbia Central American Student Alliance) and Rompiendo el Silencio (Breaking the Silence) in Canada have contributed to the creation of a just and egalitarian model that respects the families and communities that cultivate coffee.

During the 2002-2003 crop, the sales of CCDA increased again, exporting more than 19,600 pounds to their Canadian partners.

Just drink to Justice!

Of the 30 CCDA communities that cultivate coffee, the CCDA can only buy 50% of the coffee produce in 1 community. As a result, they are continuing their search for new markets and relationships, visiting importing countries with the goal of informing and educating the people on the coffee crisis and how it is affecting the health and well being of thousands of families in Guatemala and the world.

Lots of work is clearly needed to increase the sales and importations of fair trade coffee since the international fair trade market remains small. It is possible to build a more fair country when the consumer has more of an understanding that each purchase that they make can impact the lives of small-scale producers. To know where and how a product arrives is imperative.

Buying coffee through fair trade can help campesinos earn more capital and the power to diversify their crops to be less dependent on a mono-crop and to stop being slaves of a volatile market.


Only when there is respect for those who harvest, will we see more campesnos like those involved in the CCDA, reclaiming their dignity as producers of one of the most saught after crops - coffee.


Comité Campesino del Altiplano

| Colonia Santa Crúz Quixayá | San Lucas Tolimán, Sololá | Guatemala |

| | 502-804-9451 |

Leocadio Juracán | General Coordinator and Responsable for Comercialization