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Co-operative Union SOPPEXCCA perspective on the national crisis

News from Nicaragua | Friday, 27 July 2018 |

Look out for this sticker when buying your Fair Trade Coffee! By buying it you will be showing your solidarity with the farmers of SOPPEXCCA who are living through such painful times.

Look out for this sticker when buying your Fair Trade Coffee! By buying it you will be showing your solidarity with the farmers of SOPPEXCCA who are living through such painful times.

‘As small scale farmers organised in UCA SOPPEXCCA we embrace the hope that the generalised state of violence in our country can be managed and that an understanding can be reached among the political leaders of all political positions and currents.

Our hope is that they can leave to one side their own interests, positions and aspirations and think and act for the benefit of the all Nicaraguans, who without distinction of religion and political ideology are living very painful days and nights.’

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Since 2002, NSC has worked with co-operatives in Nicaragua through promoting awareness of, and understanding between Nicaraguan small scale farmers and UK Fair Trade activists.

One of these co-operatives is the union SOPPEXCCA, an umbrella organisation based in northern Nicaragua region of Jinotega. SOPPEXCCA is made up of 650 small scale coffee and cacoa farmers organised into 15 co-operatives. Their coffee is sold through Fair Trade markets including in the UK. SOPPEXCCA is particular renown for the quality of their coffee and raising the visibility of women farmers.

Buy their coffee online http://nicaraguasc.org.uk/shop/coffee%20&%20jewels.htm

This is their declaration and position on the current national crisis:

‘The UCA SOPPEXCCA, as an entity of organised small producers, promotes a culture of peace, harmony, respect for the law and democratic participation.

We therefore give our support to peaceful solutions and call for an end to the culture of violence generated in our country owing to the events that we are experiencing and which affect us both individually and collectively, since the peace that we enjoyed in our Nicaragua disappeared in the most abrupt and tempestuous fashion.

We feel the grief of many Nicaraguan families who have lost loved ones, tranquillity and have to face up to the consequences.

We, as Nicaraguans, will also face consequences as it is evident that there will be an economic slowdown that will affect the majority of our people, especially the poorest families, the majority.

Sadly, many dreams are being left behind as we wait for the shining light of peace to emerge again; reconciliation and work will be our standard bearers as we endeavour to lift our country out of the poverty levels we find ourselves in.

In summary, here are some of the conditions we are currently experiencing:

a) For more than 30 days the city of Jinotega, where our head office is located, has been paralysed due to the road blocks all over the city, which prevent us from moving around in safety. In line with our principle of ensuring the health and well being of those we work with, we decided to close down our operations for the month, prioritising only some immediate activities as they arose and needed a response and this only in restricted work hours.

b) Some order was restored to the city of Jinotega a little over one week ago, with the subsequent removal of the road blocks. However, an atmosphere of insecurity still prevails. There are still strong protests in one area of the city, located three blocks away from our offices. Nonetheless, the level of risk has reduced and this has allowed us to recommence our working hours with a finishing time of 4 pm.

c) In rural areas, it has been extremely difficult to maintain supplies of basic foodstuffs, especially rice, sugar, soap and medicines. Due to the prevailing situation in the country, the price of such goods has increased substantially and supplying these goods has been very complicated.

However, since the road blocks have been taken down in the cities, we are having to face increased instability in rural areas: theft of vehicles, food and firearms from security guards in medium and large sized farms. This latter element has been more accentuated during this week. Given this new difficulty, we are in constant touch with the leaders of our first level co-operatives to make sure we have up-to-date information about the stability of the farming associated in the cooperative.

d) We have suspended our technical support and training programmes and we will be awaiting a follow up internal evaluation after 20 July, anticipating new developments and the possibility of increased certainty regarding the efficient implementation of our work plans in a safe environment both for our producers and for our personnel.

e)As SOPPEXCCA we have been working according to prevailing conditions: if we can be physically present we do so or else working from home maintaining communication, making progress on necessary reports and implementing some high priority activities with specific staff members.

f) So far we have managed to fulfil all our export coffee contracts with a few delays because of documentation problems. Getting the necessary paperwork done has been made difficult by the complications in getting around in some places. We are however in the process of overcoming these challenges.

g) In financial terms, as an organization, we have been severely affected by the reduction in sales in our own coffee shops, in our community retail outlets, and increases in fixed costs and basic services. Also due to delayed shipments of coffee caused by crisis our costs have increased. All this added to lost working days, higher costs in mobilising due to the difficulties in getting around, cash flow problems in paying our members with, as of today, 40% of our members still awaiting payment for their coffee.

i) We have delivered the fertilizer necessary to our members to guarantee 100% of the coffee of the next harvest, with the hope and certainty that we will have a good harvest. And although international coffee prices are depressed, we will come through this crisis with the support of importers, roasters, finance agencies, organizations and friends of UCA SOPPEXCCA.

We are certain that they will not abandon us in a situation such as that we are currently experiencing. For that same reason, every day we get up with the motivation to continue and move forward

As small scale farmers organised in UCA SOPPEXCCA we embrace the hope that the generalized state of violence in our country can be managed and that there can be an “understanding” among the political leaders in our country and among all political positions and currents.

Our hope is that they can leave to one side their own interests, positions and aspirations and think and act in benefit of the whole Nicaraguan people, who without distinction of religion and political ideology are living very painful days and nights.

Since the onset of this national crisis three months ago, this is our second communication. We would have liked to be able to communicate to you that all is well in our country because we are sure that our grief will also be a source of pain and hurt to our true friends.

A big hug to everyone and we leave you with this: we need you now more than ever.

Fátima Ismael Espinoza Manager

Santiago José Lanzas

President of the Board of Management

12 July, 2018