Opportunities of a sugar mill
Silvestre Santa Cruz is one of the more than 1600 members of the Sugar Cooperative Manduvira Ltda located in Arroyos y Esteros Paraguay. Silvestre produces not only fair trade certified organic sugar cane, but he and his wife María Andrea Recalde de Santa Cruz also produce sesame seeds, fruits, vegetables, and other products for their food security needs at their farm.
Beaming with pride, Silvestre remarks: “I have worked with the cooperative since 2001, which was before we received our organic certification as a cooperative.” He sits on the patio of his home looking at the trees, tall, wide, and imposing, giving his farm its character, which has been passed down from generation to generation.
Silvestre´s farm also has several farm animals, such as cows. His wife Maria Andrea points out: “We used to have more, but the grass feed isn’t very good quality anymore and we can´t feed more than six on our land”. As you walk into the farm, the large floral plants give way to another pasture teeming with crops – plantain, sesame, and vegetables.
Before Silvestre joined Manduvira, he worked at a factory to which he sold his products. The family lived on a meager income which, as his family grew, became more stretched and unsustainable. In search of a true living wage, he eventually decided to join the cooperative.
“What I appreciate most about the cooperative is the market it offers. The Fair Trade market is much more stable, and enables me to plan ahead.” From an economic point of view, I am much better off since I started growing sugar cane for the cooperative. I´ve even been able to repair my house.”
“The Fair Trade market is stable, and enables me to plan ahead.”