Cocla is a Peruvian second-tier co-operative made up by 22 first-tier co-operatives that has been working for 44 years to support Peruvian agriculture in line with its social and service-oriented mission.
Cocla began its first activities before 1967, when seven Coffee Growers Co-operatives based in the Peruvian province of La Convención and in the district of Yanatile, together with some other small coffee growers, saw the need to merge their work to start a second-tier Co-operative Organization.
Since the beginning, COCLA started its activities offering storage services, coffee processing and selection, fire and transport insurance, coffee marketing, and even accounting service. Today, in addition to coffee, also other products such as tea, honey, soya, beans, cocoa, and some animal feed are being marketed. This product diversification is part of the strategy adopted by the co-operative to minimize risks; value is thus added to local products. To achieve its goal, Cocla uses raw materials, buys new supplies and consumables for its producers and develops tailor-made contracts.
Moreover, COCLA started a tourism co-operative called COCLA TOURS that promotes cultural and experience-based tourism by offering trips on the path of coffee aroma towards Machu Picchu, a famous Andean Inca ancient settlement.
In the past, COCLA modified its statutes and regulations to make significant changes in the structure, organization and functions, not only of the main co-operative COCLA, but also of the member co-operatives. Subsequently the organization became one of the most modern coffee growers co-operatives in Peru; COCLA is strengthening its position at a social, economic and technological level, exporting more than 200 thousand hundredweights coffee for each harvest.
As for the social initiatives, in 2006 COCLA founded a centre that provides women with social services (Casa Comunitaria de Servicios Sociales). The founding had been possible thanks to the financial aid offered by producers and Canadians cooperators, and to a bonus for fair trade. The centre cares for women subject to psychological and sexual violence and hosts some public offices, such as a health centre (Centro de salud Santa Ana), a womens emergency centre (Centro de Emergencia de la Mujer), and a consulting service for reproductive and sexual health for teenagers and young people. Further, since 1972 there is also a social sport club available for employees use. Recently, in 2010, they formed a trade union (Sindicato de Trabajadores).
Gender equality is also a major concern of COCLA. It promoted the development of a new organ in the board of directors, dealing with the integration of women and their families in the co-operative. The new committees, known as Comités de Desarrollo de la Mujer, identify womens needs and develop training programmes to promote gender equality and to empower women in carrying out their activities in different areas.
COCLA is also well conscious that education is the base for any co-operative project. Therefore COCLA offers four education and training projects in different areas: cooperation, agriculture, gender and family, and health. It also organizes cultural meetings with young Canadians and Peruvians living together with producing families.
As for the technical aspects, the co-operative has an Integrated Management and Quality System, which is part of its strategy to implement production aiming at quality. There are also promoters and supervisors working for the co-operative; they are members or members’ children collaborating with the co-operative by visiting the fields and verifying all plots of land held by the producers.
COCLA is a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fairtrade Producers (CLAC) and Fairtrade International.