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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A Honey Exporter Reveals the Potential of Innovative Cooperatives

As revealed in a new IDB report entitled, “Competing in Agribusiness: Corporate Strategies and Public Policies for the Challenges of the 21st Century,” Coopsol emerged in Santiago del Estero and Chaco, two of Argentina’s poorest provinces, to thrive by producing conventional and organic honey, while contribute to better social and environmental conditions in local communities. It did so amid a particularly challenging international environment in which prices had fallen because of honey’s widespread adulteration with cheap syrups from corn, rice and other foodstuffs.

Coopsol sought out financial support from American, European and Argentine NGOs, as well as international development organizations and the European Community. It trained it members in high quality production, both conventional and organic, and developed systems to monitor standards and trace the honey from the supplier to the final product.

Those advances – together with members involvement in decision making — allowed the cooperative to demonstrate that it had worker-driven, high quality, unadulterated honey and to export directly to niche markers in the US and Europe. With at least one-third of its members possessing organic and fair-trade certifications, many cooperative members are now earning at least 20% above the price of conventional honey for their organic product, and 5%-15% premiums from their fair trade status that they can use to reinvest in their businesses.

Read the rest at the Inter-American Development Bank blog


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