Focus on APAS
a Brazilian FairTrade growers association
Focus today on a distinguished group of producers from Brazil: APAS, Associçao dos Produtores do Alto da Serra. APAS is a young producers’ association of 60 members, based in the rural community of Ferreiras, in the municipality of Sao Gonçalo do Sapucai. It is located in the South Minas region, more precisely in a mountains’ chain called “Serra da Mantiqueira”. This micro region has become famous over the last 10 years for its awards winning coffees and the pioneer spirit and dedication of a group of producers in the town of Carmo de Minas.
APAS represents the beauty of Brazil’s coffee diversity. When thinking about Brazililan coffees, the first picture that comes to our mind are the large and beautiful Fazendas, coffee trees up to the horizon, perfectly aligned rows: the model of the modern coffee farm. APAS and its members are different and characterises another type of Brazilian coffee production. First it’s a rural community on a dead-end dirt road, half an hour away from the closest city. Second, farms are at human scale, run by the family. People live and work on their farm and one can feel the sense of community when visiting this association. Finally, these producers recently realised the potential of producing high quality coffees in their region, they are young, dynamic and dedicated to put their community on the world map of high quality coffees.
APAS was founded in 2006 by a group of producers who initially gathered together to participate in events and training.
The objective of creating the association was to resolve problems together and better sell our coffees. But nobody knew about quality coffee and we had no idea about the potential of our region!
says Ademilson, current president of the association. The quality of their coffees was discovered by chance, about 3 years ago. From there on, with the support of the state rural extension service (EMATER) and its famous local engineer Sergio, the association has been spreading the word about the quality potential of their region.
With the perfect conditions from which we benefit, in the end it’s only about the care given during harvest and post harvest processes.”
says Alessandro, one of APAS iconic leaders.
In 2013, the association managed to become FairTrade certified. When asked why they decided to certify FairTrade, Sergio says:
All what the association was trying to achieve to improve the producers’ lives was also part of the FairTrade program. We were aligned, FairTrade and APAS had the same language.
And what did FairTrade certification bring to the association?
It forced us to get better organised as an organisation, for example we now have selection criterias for new members. We don’t want producers joining only for the better prices we can get: we want producers who are committed to coffee quality and are complying with the social and environmental norm of the FairTrade certification. Also, thanks to the FairTrade premium, we could invest in the infrastructure of the cooperative: we recently built a cupping room where we can cup the coffees of our members. And in fact, it is also thanks to FairTrade that we heard about algrano!
Indeed, APAS has been supporting algrano since the beginning when algrano presented the first version of its platform to all FairTrade cooperatives from the South Minas region in April 2014. For them, algrano is a way to be seen by roasters from all over the world and develop relationships with roasters looking for high quality coffees.