Apicoop – Chile
The Fairtrade honey in all our Geobars comes from our beekeeper friends at the Apicoop co-operative in Chile. And now they’re blazing a blueberry trail too by producing the world’s first Fairtrade blueberries which go into our Mixed Berry Geobar!!
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 started as a beekeepers project in the 1980s funded by the church during the Pinochet regime, but became an official co-operative in 1997.
Advantages of working with Traidcraft
The Apicoop co-operative helps its members with all kinds of things like market access and technical assistance, as well as collection and distribution of the honey drums they use. But the work of the co-op doesn’t stop there…
At Traidcraft we like doing things no-one else has done before. That’s partly what made us want to make Geobars in the first place… So we were really pleased to be able to support Apicoop to become the producers of the world’s first Fairtrade blueberries!
Its blueberries taste great and help us make our tasty Geobars, but they also create jobs – particularly for women.
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 real heroes in all this of course are the hard working bees.
After all, they’re the ones producing the yummy honey! But that’s not all they do – they also play a vital role in pollinating the blueberries too! So hooray for those busy bees!
Meet the growers
Benefits from the Fairtrade Premium
Because the honey is sold on Fairtrade terms, 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!
Traidcraft’s advance payment for the blueberry harvest also meant that they could buy a blue tractor – an essential tool in the blueberry fields!
Producing Fairtrade Honey in Chile
The great thing about beekeeping is that not only do the bees do most of the work – with a little encouragement from the beekeepers – but it’s ideal for developing countries, because no land is needed and it has low start-up costs.
For many Apicoop members, honey is their only source of cash income.
Most of them are small-scale, which means they have 15-20 hives or medium scale with 100-200 hives.
The honey is harvested by the beekeepers during the Chilean summertime from December to April and then processed and stored in barrels at a plant employing around 30 people.
Apicoop’s blue tractor is called Joe, kindly named after Traidcraft’s Sourcing Director!
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- Honey from Apicoop goes into all of our Geobars
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- Fair trade at school