Day 36 – A quick note from Andean Family Farmers

Day 36 – A quick note from Andean Family Farmers


Dona Veri and her chicharon de llama.  A fried llama dish served  with local mote and chuno.

Dona Veri and her chicharon de llama. A fried llama dish served with local mote and chuno.

      As I explored the Fair Trade value chain, I visited with Yeres and Ghita of Andean Family Farmers, the technical/producer arm of Andean Naturals, one Saturday morning at their Oruro office located in a tall building in the middle of the busy Cochabamba street market. There they shared some stories and data with me. Their Fair Trade certification is managed by Europe’s FLO Cert (I have an interview with Tito the certifier, in two weeks). They tend to work more with smaller producer groups and independent farmers than their European Fair trade counterparts who prefer large worker-managed associations. Their US certification comes form Fair trade USA. Andean Naturals ships an average of 20 to 25 containers of both Fair Trade and organic quinoa flakes and grains from Bolivia a month. They are hoping to soon to be working with Costco as a US client.

            The minimum Fair Trade price for a ton of quinoa is set by FLO at a world standard of $2,600 a tonelada. Currently the Bolivia Fair Trade price is at $2,800 to $3,000 a tonelada, which is significantly lower from last year’s $6,000+ a tonelada price. The FLO Fair Trade world price for quinoa, is not at a sustainable level for the Bolivian farmers who purposely produce lower yields using more artisanal, indigenous methods, being careful not to overplant their lands. Despite lower world prices for Fair Trade quinoa, Andean Naturals strives to continue to create value and develop new market ways to maintain their Fair Trade purchases at a fair price for the Bolivian farmers.

            Yeres and Ghita admit that sometimes it has been difficult to administer the social premium fund paid by Andean Family Farmers, but as their producers are becoming more organized and understand better how the funds are to be used (for community, not association development), these funds are arriving at producer locations. One association used their funds to benefit the community school children providing books, pencils, pens and backpacks for all children. Another association invested into a study of beneficial plants for pest control, natural fertilizers for the soil and a higher quality pre-cleaning system. Andean Naturals is helping a Kellogg Foundation project to partner with another community to bring solar panels and basic sanitation in the forms of wells and latrines to a quinoa growing region that has not yet been electrified or received these services.

            At this meeting (two weeks ago), we set up my travels to Quillacas to meet some of their Fair Trade producers. Now I am in Quillacas with the producers and it has been a great visit. Yesterday, Ghita and Ximena from Andean Family Farmers stopped by to introduce a La Paz reporter, Cecilia, who was studying rural child nutrition, to the community and see how Eufraen’s quinoa shipment was going. We had a nice lunch together of chicharon of llama (fried llama), mote (rehydrated corn) and chunos (recydrated pottoes) all local and organic, very delicious! Then I was off to teach a marketing lesson to the Quillacas 8th graders while the women went to visit a rural community they had arranged to see. It was a short, but nice visit.