Apicoop is made up of 350 beekeepers, all in the Valdivia region of southern Chile. They live in rural communities where work is scarce. It all started as a beekeepers project in the 1980s funded by the church during the Pinochet regime, but became an official co-operative in 1997.
Our friends at Apicoop not only provide us with the world’s first Fairtrade blueberries but also Fairtrade honey that goes into our all our delicious GEOBARS. As well as reducing the risk of relying on just one product, the blueberry project is helping to provide additional employment in a rural area where jobs are scarce.
The income from the blueberries has made Apicoop less reliant on loans from commercial banks and means it’s been able to develop a ‘community bank’ making low-interest loans to members, so they can buy more hives and other equipment.
The honey and blueberries are both sold on Fairtrade terms, so Apicoop receives a Fairtrade premium which they’ve used to invest in equipment to make life easier for themselves.
For example, they don’t need to have four men to carry each of their barrels of honey anymore – now they use their forklift truck!
The beekeepers also have access to an ‘agronomist’ who advises them on avoiding and curing bee diseases and dealing with other agricultural issues. And let’s face it – keeping those bees happy and healthy is pretty important!
Our advance payment for the blueberry harvest also meant that they could buy a blue tractor – an essential tool in the blueberry fields!