To mark the UN International Day of Cooperatives on the first Saturday in July, we take a look at the work of Christian Aid’s partner, Nochari, in Nicaragua.
Trade is one of the main routes out of poverty. But one of the biggest challenges for poor producers is being able to reach a market where they can sell their products.
With limited access to transport and no marketing or sales expertise, many poor producers have no choice but to sell from home. Middlemen buy cheaply and then re-sell the products at market for a big profit.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, as our partner organisation Nochari has proved in Nicaragua, the poorest country in Latin America.
Nochari has helped women in the rural area of Nandaime to form a cooperative to improve the way they process, market and sell their products, so they can reach more customers. Traditionally, these women supported their families by selling medicines, soaps, juices, wines and jams made from local fruit and edible flowers from their homes.
‘Nochari helped set up the cooperative, because they saw that it was unfair that middlemen were coming to buy from poor people at a very low price, when the market price is actually high,’ explains 28-year-old cooperative member Fanny del Socorro Tardencillo.
At the centre of the new business is the Flor de jamaica – a juice made from dried hibiscus flowers.
This is a popular drink in Nicaragua and Nochari’s hibiscus cooperative is now producing the juice on a grand scale in their new processing plant.
Nochari sells directly to shops, restaurants and supermarkets across the country, and is on track to become Nicaragua’s largest producer of the hibiscus plant.
With a growing market for its products, demand is soaring, and Nochari’s hibiscus farmers are now growing – and selling – up to eight times as much as they used to.
Christian Aid started to work with Nochari in 2005 as part of our strategic commitment to helping poor producers in Central America.
For almost a decade, our Nicaragua programme has also supported Soppexcca, a group of coffee cooperatives.
In 2009/10 we are sending £60,000 (€70,310) to Nochari, to continue supporting and developing women’s cooperatives in Nandaime.
We are also working to set up links between Nochari and Soppexcca, so that each can benefit from the other’s knowledge and expertise.