Montillo Cooperative was formed in a region of Paraguay known as the World Cradle of Organic Sugar. After the harvest, farmers grind the cane to release the juice, which is boiled, reduced to a syrup, then crystallized.
The Montillo Cooperative is based in a small village named Arroyos y Esteros (Streams and Estuaries), not far from the Paraguayan capital, Asunción. It was founded in 1995 by 37 small-scale farmers. They became Fair Trade-certified in 1998.
Today there are 385 farmer members in the cooperative. By being Fair Trade, they gain better trading conditions for their produce, improved production, technical assistance and access to credit.
The Body Shop’s trade creates vital employment on the farms and in the processing factories outside the cities. This allows people the option of remaining in the community rather than leaving in search of employment.
Traditionally, sugarcane fields are burned just before harvest, killing any wildlife that may be living within the crop. When Montillo farmers harvest the cane, the leaves are cut and stripped by hand and used for fertiliser, helping to protect the local fauna.
A BIG IMPACT
Building a brighter future, the cooperative has reinvested profits into new offices, setting up collection points with weighing scales (reducing the distances travelled by members to deliver cane), and supporting the local schools with repairs.