Unión de Productores Orgánicos Beneficio Majomut Sociedad de Producción Rural de Responsabilidad Limitada (MAJOMUT)

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Public Statement 2016

Productive and Economic Reactivation of Unión Majomut’s Coffee Chain 
Title
Type of organization Grassroots organization
Country México
Duration  4 years 
IAF funding   $223,913
Counterpart committed $1,336,827 (Cash: $1,230,557 and in-kind: $106,270
Number of direct &
indirect beneficiaries
Direct: 984
Indirect: 4,920 
Primary program area Sustainable small-holder agriculture; environment                                    

Organization

Unión de Productores Orgánicos Beneficio Majomut Sociedad de Producción Rural de Responsabilidad Limitada (Majomut or in Tsotsil “Place of Birds”) was legally constituted in 1983 as a sociedad de producción rural, rural production association, by highly marginalized and isolated Tseltal and Tsotsil farmers. Growers cultivate organic, fair trade coffee for international specialty markets as their main source of income. Majomut sells coffee directly to companies in the U.S., Canada and Europe. It offers services to its members that include savings and loan banking, financing and access to working capital. Majomut invests some profits in social projects aimed at improving women’s participation in the community, food security, literacy and the community’s standard of living.   

Majomut is governed by a general assembly that meets at least once a year to review and approve financial reports and the annual work plan. Every three years, the general assembly   elects administrative and oversight councils. Each community also elects members to an assembly formed by all the members of each community delegates’ assembly that meets bi-monthly to follow-up on those agreements reached at the general assembly, approve loans, review new membership applications and oversee the performance of staff. Majomut has about nine part-time and full-time staff, and a three-member administrative council represented by a president, a secretary and treasurer. It is divided into five departments: production and internal control, marketing and logistics, administration and accounting, coordination and community development.

Majomut received an IAF grant in 1994 to improve its organizational structure and introduce fruit-growing trees to diversify its farmers’ income base. Additionally it supported producers’ efforts to cultivate coffee using exclusively organic methods. Majomut has received grants from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Financiando el Desarrollo para el Campo (FINDECA), a private institution operated by Coordinadora Estatal de Productores de Café del Estado de Oaxaca. A.C. and Fondo Social Banamex, among others. It has received loans and technical support from Root Capital. 

Development Objective

To improve incomes and living standards for 984 farmers in 35 communities in the altos (“highlands”) of Chiapas. 

Project Description

Unión de Productores Orgánicos Beneficio Majomut Sociedad de Producción Rural de Responsabilidad Limitada (Majomut) will undertake activities to improve the quality of coffee production, increase sales of micro-lot coffee in international specialty markets, boost sales of roasted coffee in the domestic market and address coffee rust. The goal will be to double incomes for its 984 members, restoring these to the levels that existed prior to the coffee crisis of 2012-2013, which was caused by the coffee rust fungus.

Majomut’s team will use its IAF funding to provide more than 12,000 hours of technical assistance and training in agroecological practices such as land barriers, terraces, live barriers, shade management, diversification of fruit trees, vermicomposting and the conservation of native species. It will also distribute improved coffee seeds to farmers. Majomut will develop a business plan that will emphasize product differentiation and targeting of niche markets.

At the conclusion of the grant period, Majomut will have increased its coffee production to eight quintales per hectare, its national sales of roasted coffee will increase by 50 percent, and it will have sold at least 12 micro-lots to foreign clients. 

Rationale for Funding

Chiapas’ coffee farmers noticed the impact of coffee rust in the harvest of 2012- 2013. The plague has spread far and fast, driven by higher temperatures that allowed the fungus to thrive at higher altitudes. Many experts say climate change is largely to blame for these shifting patterns. Community organizations, and many IAF grantees, express that they had never seen coffee rust attack their coffee trees as aggressively as in these past years. Most organizations do not have rainy day funds to cover the magnitude of these losses and insurance is limited or non-existent in the rural sector.

Coffee rust halved Majomut’s production in just three years. Producers have seen their income fall from more than $15,000 to $7,700. Majomut’s members have already invested their own limited resources in coffee rust control by establishing nurseries and experimenting with blight-resistant varieties. 

Learning Opportunity

This grant provides lessons in resilience − an organization that was devastated by the coffee blight now committing itself to increasing production of high quality coffee . It is adapting new strategies and developing new markets to restore its member’s incomes. To do this, Majomut will build on its expertise in niche coffee marketing, and producers will control more of the value chain