Partnerships in Fairtrade coffee: a close-up look at how buyers and NGOs build supply capacity in Nicaragua
This paper examines efforts by buyers and NGOs to build the supply of Fairtrade coffee from the Nicaragua-based cooperative Soppexcca following the coffee crisis. Support was aimed at transforming Soppexcca into a viable business, able to respond to the needs of its coffee-farming members. Results show that Soppexcca made significant gains, including expansion of infrastructure, growth in membership, and increased financial stability. However, important issues remained, related to democratic governance, future growth and stability, and the provision of services. Results suggest that advances in building cooperatives do not easily translate into increased capacities at the household level. While some important gains were detected, in general, producers struggled to intensify coffee production and take full advantage of their access to preferential markets. This paper makes a plea for deeper discussions about how buyers and NGOs can more effectively contribute to building the supply of high-quality Fairtrade coffee, and the need for increased coordination and mutual learning as part of the process.