CEPCO was founded in 1989 in the midst of a severe crisis in Mexico’s coffee industry and today works with over 4,300 small coffee producers. Situated in the state of Oaxaca, CEPCO co-ordinates 39 regional co-operatives in seven indigenous regions and is very involved in regional and national social movements that address poverty and marginalisation in indigenous communities.
CEPCO’s primary objective is to build a permanent organisation of small producers with the ability to resolve the needs of its members. In order to help the farmers develop economic security, CEPCO works with them to improve their coffee production and processing techniques, as well as developing marketing strategies for coffee sales. While CEPCO is focussed on the production and marketing of coffee, the multi-ethnic organisation also works with its members to strengthen and empower their communities, promote the participation of women, address issues of social justice, cultural autonomy and grassroots democracy.
A commitment to organic agriculture is another priority for CEPCO, mainly for the health of their communities. Organic practises prevent hazardous waste from contaminating local water sources and soil. They also grow organically to promote plant and animal diversity.
For CEPCO, women’s participation is considered to be a fundamental part of their social development and 43% of their members are women with participation in all co-operative roles – locally, regionally and internationally.